CHA moves to buy foreclosed units for big families

Chicago Housing Authority commissioners approved a plan today to buy up vacant, foreclosed units for large families waiting to return to public housing.

The $16 million Property Investment Initiative will allow CHA to purchase around 50 units with three or more bedrooms for families who lived in public housing before the Plan For Transformation began and are waiting to return.

"It's good for families, and it's very good for the city so that we have units that are now vacant due to foreclosure are now inhabited and aren't sitting vacant, being a drag on the neighborhood," says Maria Hibbs, executive director for the Partnership for New Communities, an organization that works with CHA to revitalize public housing neighborhoods.

Hibbs says although CHA is overhauling public housing through rehab and new construction, most of the units are one and two bedroom, not big enough for families with many children.

"It helps those families and provides a way for them to have a little more room," says Hibbs.

The number of large families looking for housing is based on the list of residents who lived in public housing on Oct. 1, 1999.

CHA is currently updating that list to generate more current numbers, says Matt Aguilar, manager of media relations for CHA. Those exact numbers were not available this afternoon.

Although the bulk of the properties purchased will be foreclosed units, some of the units will be regular, market value properties. In order to do so, CHA has to figure in the total development cost limits, or TDC, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The authority will be working with HUD to establish new reasonable cost formulas to replace the current TDC limits for purchasing these new properties.

In other business, the Board of Commissioners approved minor changes to the 2009 work requirement, including extending the among of time that volunteer hours could count towards half of the 15 hour a week work requirement from two years to three years.

They also voted to extend their contract with Windows of Opportunity, the charity arm of CHA, with more stringent guidelines and benchmarks for the non-profit organization.


Staff Writer Megan Cottrell covers public housing for the Daily News. She can be reached at 773-362-5002, ext. 12.