The Chicago Housing Authority will reach an important milestone next year—the completion of 25,000 new or rehabbed public housing apartments, the goal CHA set 18 years ago when it adopted its ambitious and far-reaching Plan for Transformation.
This is a singular achievement, particularly considering that the intervening years saw the 2008 real estate market collapse during the Great Recession, as well as a decrease in public funding for affordable housing. While the number of CHA public housing units is fewer than at the beginning of the Plan, the total number of households CHA serves through all of its housing programs has increased from about 50,000 to more than 63,000.
Nevertheless, as we applaud these significant achievements, it is important to acknowledge what remains to be done to complete the goals and promises of both the original Plan for Transformation and CHA’s more recent “Plan Forward.” Large areas of vacant land remain where public housing once stood, waiting for promised mixed-income developments which will include several thousand additional public housing units. In a number of places, work remains to fully achieve CHA’s goal that these communities “will benefit from a full array of retail, commercial, educational and community amenities.” It is important to recognize that nearly all of the families with the right to return under the Plan have been provided new housing, while also noting that CHA’s wait lists still number in the tens of thousands.
As we acknowledge the significant achievements of the Plan for Transformation, we are mindful of how much remains to be done. BPI will continue to work with CHA to see that everything possible is done to provide more housing and better neighborhoods for the thousands of Chicago families who desperately need it.
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