The promise and peril of mixed-income housing

Almost 20 years ago, a wrecking ball leveled a 14-story high-rise at the Henry Horner Homes on the city’s Near West Side. What has happened since then is both amazing and disturbing. Horner, a public housing development, became Westhaven Park, a mixed-income community of market-rate renters, homeowners and former Horner residents. The transformation from Horner to Westhaven was a bold leap to create a better environment for public housing residents who had complained of everything from roaches to gangs to unlit stairwells. In many ways, life is better.

Henry Horner Homes, 1993

Dismantling the towers

Twenty years after the demolition of Henry Horner Homes on the city’s Near West Side, former residents don’t think mixed-income housing is working for them.

Living up to a legacy of activism

Vincent Davis, who has lived in the Cabrini-Green housing complex his entire life, is following in the footsteps of his late mother, Lillian Davis Swope, by becoming a housing activist.

CHA wait list exposes Chicago’s affordable housing crisis

More than a quarter of Chicago households–more than 282,000–recently turned to the Chicago Housing Authority in their search for a better or more affordable home. The households are vying for an apartment in public housing or a housing voucher, either of which could be a step up from their current living situations. But the huge response to the four-week registration period for the agency’s wait lists also exposes a glaring need for quality, affordable housing in Chicago. The registration period, which ended Monday, is the first time CHA has opened its public housing wait list since 2010 and its voucher wait list since 2008. The wait lists, for the first time, used a single online application.

Julia C. Lathrop Homes

Aldermen demand local oversight, transparency for CHA

Thirteen aldermen have introduced an ordinance to increase oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority as pressure mounts over continuing revelations of the agency’s hoarding of resources and failure to provide housing. Meanwhile, evidence of the need for local oversight mounts. HUD has put a hold on the proposed swap of CHA land at the former site of the Harold Ickes Homes for an athletic field for Jones College Prep because CHA did not consult with residents on the disposition of the land. At a news conference Wednesday, council members expressed outrage that in an era of budget constraints at every level of government, the CHA has accumulated a cash surplus of $432 million and failed to distribute tens of thousands of housing vouchers, while leaving thousands of units unleased and slowing construction of new housing to a virtual standstill. “How dare they!” thundered Ald.