Nearly 200,000 people have registered for the Chicago Housing Authority waitlist lottery in the first 10 days of a four-week signup period, CHA officials said November 6.
The CHA currently serves about 50,000 households with public housing: 9,500 senior apartments and 7,000 family units as well as 35,000 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs). Formerly known as Section 8, HCVs subsidize low-income families in the private rental market.
On October 27, the CHA opened all three of its waitlists:
There are 10,000 names on the Public Housing waitlist, while the HCV waitlist has been depleted “through CHA’s regular waiting list selection list process,” CHA Public Information Officer Wendy Parks said in a November 7 email. The numbers for each of the three waiting lists will be randomly determined after the lottery early next year, she said.
CHA had earlier opened its Family Public Housing waitlist in 2010, when 40,000 people were selected, Parks wrote. When the HCV waitlist opened in 2008, another 40,000 names were picked.
However, Leah Levinger, director of the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI), called the waitlist reopening a public relations move. “There is a lot of community pressure about how many vouchers the CHA is sitting on and how much money they are sitting on.”
Chicago Housing Initiative studies of CHA reports say that the authority has a cash surplus of $432 million and federal money for an additional 13,000 Housing Choice Vouchers. CHI is behind a City Council ordinance that would require full utilization within three years and 1 for 1 replacement in the construction of future developments. This ordinance for greater City Council oversight has the support of 23 aldermen, she said.
On the first day of the newly opened waitlists, more than 200 ex-offenders with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) Re-Entry Project marched from City Hall to CHA headquarters at 60 E. Van Buren. Upon arrival, officials of the Re-Entry Project, which is a partnership between CCH, the Safer Foundation and St. Leonard’s Ministries, took a large petition for housing with over 125 signatures upstairs to CHA offices.
CCH officials said that people who were formerly incarcerated may apply for waitlists. If someone is called from a lottery, they can present evidence of rehabilitation in a housing interview.
The CHA signup period continues through November 24. Registration for any or all of the waiting list lotteries is at www.thechawaitlist.org or 312.971.7700.
By Suzanne Hanney, StreetWise Editor-in-Chief