By Chinta Strausberg
Richard Monoccthio, executive director of the Cook County Housing Authority, Saturday, November 10, 2018, spoke at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition about the County’s serving about 60,000 people his desire to build veterans housing on the South Side of Chicago.
“We have a massive rehabilitation program going on, 1,200 apartments are getting rehabilitation, and we’re upgrading our existing housing stock and then we’ll build new housing that is much needed in places like Evanston and Chicago Heights,” Monoccthio said.
“We have a lot of opportunities for young people or not so young people who want to work. In the skill trades, we have programs to get people into manufacturing jobs that pay very well. Our economy right now is in a place where skills are a value; so we can help young people get the skills they need and then get them employed.”
Introduced by Omar Shareef, founder and president of the African American Contractors Association, who invited Monoccthio who has headed the housing authority for seven years. “Unfortunately, we have seen the suburbanization of housing. People with high incomes push a lot of people out.”
“We are working to help the most vulnerable population, the homeless, folks coming out of the criminal justice system, people who are ill in addition to what we do on a regular basis,” Monoccthio explained.
He said there are 1,200 apartments under construction. “We have a development in Ford Heights that is going to be rehabbed in the spring, and we have plans to redevelop Chicago Heights. That will entail a lot of demolition, a lot of environmental remediation and a lot of construction.”
He has a new construction project underway in the planning station to build a high-rise in Evanston. “Our next phase will be new construction.”
“We are very serious about putting people to work,” he said. He has a back-to-school program. He also provides social services.
Monoccthio said he wants to build veteran housing on the South Side. While the West Side has some veterans housing, he said, “We need some out here, too.”
Monoccthio talked about the County’s housing voucher plans that also benefit veterans.
On any given night, Rev. Dr. Todd Yeary, vice president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said between 130,000 and 200,000 veterans are homeless and three times that many are struggling with excessive rent burdens.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates about twice that many are homeless over the course of a year. “We cannot leave one veteran behind,” Yeary said. “They didn’t abandon us, and we must not turn our backs on them.”
Shareef worked with Rev. Janette Wilson, national executive director of PUSH Excel, in bringing Mr. Monoccthio to the breakfast along with several governmental agencies. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. also thanked the veterans for their service to the country
Monoccthio said to apply for the jobs, simply click on www.thehacc.org.