Chicago affordable housing wait can take years as city, CHA face severe shortage

CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicagoans are desperate to find affordable housing in the city, and some have been waiting years for housing to open up.

The I-Team spoke to local and federal officials to find out what’s being done to address the problem.

Randall Irvin said he applied for public housing and is still waiting six years later.

“Rent is high. Light bill, gas bill. So, it’s difficult, waiting all this time and finding out that you’re still in the same situation,” he said.

Deborrah Tipps said she’s been on the waitlist for a housing voucher since 2014.

“You have to make a decision: Do I buy food, pay light bill or medicine?” she said.

She said after watching her mother wait 25 years for an affordable housing voucher, Tipps can’t help but lose hope.

“I don’t believe it’s ever going to happen,” she said.

Both Chicago residents are among several people who contacted the I-Team about their desperate need for housing.

We took their concerns to CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority Tracey Scott to get answers.

“There are absolutely more resources needed for affordable housing,” she said. “We feel that frustration and we are doing everything we can to create more housing opportunities for families that need them, especially here in Chicago.”

According to the Chicago Housing Authority’s Fiscal Year 2023 Report, more than 200,000 families are on CHA waiting lists.

According to CHA, the wait for public housing is six months to 25 years depending on the specific development and unit size needed.

Scott said one of the biggest challenges is lack of funding from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. Without proper funding, she says cities like Chicagocan’t meet demand.

“There is nationwide, around an $80 billion backlog of repairs and capital dollars to make sure that the public housing that we have, we’re able to keep it up, make repairs and upgrades to those buildings that we own,” Scott said.

Another area of concern is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, which allows families to rent from private owners at a subsidized rate.

The Section 8 waitlist is currently closed. It was last opened in 2014, when 75,000 families were added. The problem is CHA only receives 47,000 vouchers total from HUD. A new voucher only becomes available when a family isn’t using it anymore.

“The reality is that there has not been a major increase in the amount of vouchers that the Chicago Housing Authority has received in 30 years plus,” said Scott.

HUD told the I-Team that it has a “severe shortage of affordable housing” and that “the wait list times at CHA reflect that there is greater demand for low-income housing resources than there is supply, a trend, unfortunately, not unique to the city of Chicago.”

As for Irvin and Tipps, they said they hope to see real change to the public housing system soon.

“They know the situation. People are still waiting and hurting,” Tipps said.

“You’ve got programs that’s designed to help you, and it seems like there’s no help at all,” said Irvin.

HUD told the I-Team that the Biden-Harris administration continues to push for additional resources for affordable housing, which is reflected in the president’s most recent budget sent to Congress.

For Chicagoans who are looking for housing, CHA strongly advises people to add their names to as many wait lists as possible. You can add your name to more than one list at a time. They say public housing properties tend to have shorter wait times. To apply for CHA affordable housing, click here.

Full HUD statement

We have a severe shortage of affordable housing, and it is families, seniors and others with low incomes that feel this shortage most acutely. One reason waitlists are long is that only about 1 in 4 eligible low-income households receive rental assistance under current funding levels HUD’s programs help about 5 million families, seniors, people with disabilities and others afford decent, stable housing. But another 16 million households with low incomes either pay unaffordable rents or live in housing with condition problems such as broken heating systems.

So part of the solution is making Housing Choice Vouchers and other rental assistance available to more families. The American Rescue Plan as well as every budget that this Administration has proposed has included substantial additional resources to make progress on that goal, with approximately 100,000 new vouchers funded through investments made under this Administration. The American Rescue Plan, for example, included $5 billion for 70,000 new Emergency Housing Vouchers, which have already helped more than 50,000 homeless or at-risk households move into decent, stable homes. The fiscal year 2024 Budget also includes a $22 billion investment to pave the pathway to a rental assistance guarantee for veterans with extremely low incomes and youth aging out of foster care, two groups that experience higher-than-average rates of homelessness.

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has approximately 215k households on its waiting lists, based on the most recent Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Moving to Work (MTW) Plan submitted to HUD. (Families can be on more than one waiting list). The wait list times at CHA reflect that there is greater demand for low-income housing resources than there is supply, a trend, unfortunately, not unique to the city of Chicago. One of the three statutory objectives of the MTW Demonstration is to increase housing choices, and the CHA strives to meet this objective through its ongoing development efforts and innovations in the Housing Choice Voucher program and public housing program.

The Biden-Harris Administration continues to push for additional resources to meet the challenges communities like Chicago face in meeting their affordable housing needs, which is reflected in the President’s most recent budget sent to Congress.

Additional information from CHA

The Housing Choice Voucher waitlist is closed. It last opened in 2014, after the previous waitlists were fully exhausted. At that time, there were 75,000 families added to the list.

CHA’s Public Housing and Project-Based Voucher waitlists are always open and have wait times that range from as little as six months, to as much as 25 years, depending on the specific development and unit size needed. The application process and wait times can be viewed online at:

CHA has 47,000 Housing Choice Vouchers that it receives from the federal government. The number allotted has not increased in many years. We fully agree that more resources are needed to address the need for affordable housing in Chicago and around the nation.

Over the last decade, more than 95 percent of CHA’s Housing Choice Vouchers have been used and more than 99% of the Housing Choice Vouchers are currently utilized. A voucher only becomes available to a new family on the waitlist after it is no longer being used by an existing voucher holder.

Since 2014, 43,000 families have been pulled from the waitlist and given an opportunity to search for housing. On average, approximately 2,400 families leave the program each year, providing an opportunity for new families to be pulled from the waitlist. Approximately 25,000 names remain on the waitlist.

Feeds,News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago

via ABC7 RSS Feed

May 10, 2023 at 11:10PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s