Cook housing chief to head CHA

A former Allstate executive with family ties to the Rockwell Gardens public housing project on the city's West Side is taking over the helm at the Chicago Housing Authority.

Lewis A. Jordan, 48, was named executive officer of the CHA by Mayor Richard M. Daley today. For the past year, Jordan ran the Housing Authority of Cook County.

"I believe he is particularly skilled at working with community members and organizations, which is critical at CHA," Daley said in a press release.

The Cook County agency encompasses more than 2,000 units and 13,000 Section 8 vouchers. In his new position, Jordan will oversee a much larger organization that is in the midst of a historic transformation.

The agency's reform plan, initiated in 1999, calls for replacing dilapidated high-rise projects with 25,000 privately constructed units in mixed-income communities.

In the upcoming year, the CHA expects to deliver more than 1,000 new units for families and senior citizens , bringing the total to 71,000 new or rehabbed units, out of the total goal of 25,000 units.

Some residents have faulted that effort, saying it has split decades-old communities that grew up around CHA projects while failing to provide enough housing to meet demand.

Elzie Higginbottom, chairman of the board of the HACC praised Jordan for his work at that agency.

"He did an excellent job of looking into operations and helping us with our transition at a time when the federal department of Housing and Urban Development was setting new requirements for public housing. We're sorry to see him go," Higginbottom said.

Prior to heading the HACC, Jordan served as executive director of the Rockford Housing Authority from 2002 to 2006. The RHA is the third largest housing authority in Illinois.

During Jordan's first year there, the authority operated with a budget deficit, placing it at risk for takeover by federal housing regulators, according to news reports at the time.

Additionally, an audit showed that the agency failed to separate its accounts from those of the Rockford Housing Development Corporation, a private agency governed by the same board of directors as the RHA.

It was unclear whether Jordan inherited the problems from a predecessor, or if the financial troubles arose under his watch.

Federal officials ordered the development corporation to repay the RHA $657,000, according to news accounts.

In an effort to place the agency on firm financial ground, Jordan slashed its $8 million budget by 46 percent and laid nearly half of its 150 workers.

Jordan worked for Allstate Insurance Co. in Northbrook for 19 years prior to beginning his career in housing development. At Allstate he held positions in management and human resources, and at one point was responsible for creating and implementing diversity programs.

An Allstate spokesman confirmed that Jordan worked there, but said the company's privacy policy prevented him from providing further details.

Daley had high praise for Jordan at a press conference today.

"I believe Lewis Jordan brings with him the personal background, the professional credentials and the sense of commitment required to complete the objectives of the Plan for Transformation, which is what I have asked him to do," Daley said.

Discuss

CONCERNED CITIZEN, 12-13-2007

If Lewis Jordan laid nearly half of his employees in Rockford to slash his budget, what did he do with the others?



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