Poor Chicago residents seeking public housing must wait at least 25 years or more to find a place to live in the city, according to a Crusader review of nearly 300 properties owned or that have voucher programs with the Chicago Housing Authority.
Of 299 CHA properties reviewed, the Crusader found that the wait time for 127 properties is 25 years or more. These properties include public housing facilities, to private apartments that offer subsidized rent with Section 8 vouchers.
Most of the units with long wait times are one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments. Only 12 CHA properties or units offer five bedrooms, and the wait time on nine of them is 25 years or more. Only two CHA properties offer six bedrooms whose wait time is also 25 years or more.
In Bronzeville’s Grand Boulevard neighborhood, the wait time for a CHA subsidized one- or two-bedroom unit at the recently renovated Rosenwald Apartments at 46th and Michigan is over 25 years. The wait time was also 25 years or more for many CHA units in Chatham, Auburn Gresham and Austin.
The Crusader also found 56 CHA units that have wait times between 10 to 25 years. A two- or four-bedroom unit has a 25-year wait or more at Wentworth Gardens, 3700 S. Wentworth, located just two blocks south of the White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field. However, the wait for a three-bedroom unit at the complex is between one to three years. That wait time is the same for a one-bedroom apartment at the Mahalia Jackson Apartments, 9141 and 9177 S. South Chicago in the South Chicago neighborhood.
Wentworth Gardens and the Mahalia Jackson Apartments are among just 20 CHA properties that have some bedrooms where residents only wait one to three years to move in.
The properties with 25-year-or- more wait times are located on all sides of the city that include the South, West and North sides. Some Section 8 units are also in more affluent locations, including Kenwood, the Loop, the Near North Side and the Near West Side.
The Crusader also found that 56 CHA properties throughout the city had wait times between 10 and 25 years.
Under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Plan for Transformation, the city demolished 17,000 units of public housing in an effort to move residents into mixed-housing residences. Many of the units were located in the Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini Green housing projects.
In 2017, WBEZ reported that only about 8 percent of those residents who once lived in public housing were moved into mixed-income communities.
According to CHA’s 2021 Annual Plan, the agency plans to add just 119 units to its stock. This includes a mixed-income, public housing development called 508 Pershing that will offer 20 units. CHA also plans to rehab apartments in Humboldt Park and Ravenswood as part of its plan to increase housing for low-income residents.
On its website that highlights its wait times, the CHA lists seven developments that are being built throughout the city. Six will be on the Near North and North sides and only one on the South Side.
In their 2021 Annual Plan, the CHA says its plan is to offer:
• Mixed-Income Redevelopment: CHA plans to continue with new on- and off-site phases in mixed-income developments, which have replaced many former CHA properties and acquisition of properties in Opportunity Areas.
• Property Rental Assistance (PRA) Program: CHA plans to continue to expand the existing PRA program to provide new project-based voucher units through multi-year contracts with private owners and developers.
• Conversion of Moderate Rehabilitation Properties: CHA plans to work with private owners of existing CHA
Moderate Rehabilitation program properties to identify opportunities to transition these properties to the PRA Program through RAD2 conversion or the standard project-based voucher selection process. During FY2021, CHA plans to deliver an additional 119 PBV and Public Housing units through the above-referenced initiatives.