Keeping the Promise
What is the Keeping the Promise Campaign?
The Keeping the Promise Campaign is an effort to drop homelessness in Chicago and dramatically increase access to affordable housing at no cost to Chicago’s City Government through reforming the Chicago Housing Authority.
The average age of a homeless person in Chicago is 9 years old.
Reforming the Chicago Housing Authority is the key to ending homelessness in Chicago
By holding the Chicago Housing Authority to higher standards about CHA’s use of federal and city funds, we can literally provide housing to tens of thousands of Chicago families currently struggling to provide their children with a decent, stable home.
According to CHA’s latest financial report (FY2012), the Chicago Housing Authority is sitting on surplus cash of more than $432 million— To put that in perspective, CHA’s cash stockpile is larger than the whole City of Chicago’s budget deficit for 2014.
The CHA has accumulated this cash surplus by deciding to circulate 13,500 fewer housing vouchers than HUD has funded CHA to provide annually.
In addition, CHA leaves thousands of its physical public housing units vacant year after year, and CHA’s progress in rebuilding public housing has plummeted since 2011.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families and seniors languish on CHA’s waiting lists. Many sleep in their cars or on the streets, find refuge in a homeless shelter, or double up with family members to survive—- all while public funding intended to help them continues to pile up, with no plan and no explanation.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
We need stronger local oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority
The Keeping the Promise Ordinance urges Chicago’s City Council to step in to end the abuses allowed under CHA’s federal de-regulation agreement. By using the city-controlled funding and zoning changes that CHA relies on as a carrot or stick to influence CHA’s behavior, we can improve CHA’s performance dramatically, restoring standards and accountability to the Agency, and enabling thousands to get the housing help CHA has withheld.
The legal authority is there: The City of Chicago has the right to set conditions on its own funding. Since not a single CHA redevelopment has moved forward without our City government investing its own funding into the redevelopments, City Council’s decision to adopt performance standards for the CHA as conditions for CHA to access City money can transform how CHA does business and signal that CHA’s negligence and unaccountable behavior won’t be tolerated any more.
Instead, currently, Chicago Housing Authority is the one development entity in the City of Chicago that doesn’t have to compete for city funding, with its projects prioritized automatically under the City’s low income housing tax credit allocation plan (see p. 7 of the allocation plan).
Passing the Keeping the Promise Ordinance is a way for Chicago’s City Government to restore oversight and accountability in the wake of federal deregulation of our Housing Authority, and give Chicago citizens the world class Housing Authority we deserve.
#Keeping the Promise advances the City’s affordable housing plan
During a time of severe city budget constraints, passing the Keeping the Promise Ordinance will enable us to drop homelessness in Chicago by 12% over the coming 3-5 years, without draining Chicago’s tight city budget.
The Keeping the Promise Ordinance will:
- Improve transparency by requiring CHA to report to the City Council’s Housing Committee quarterly.
- Prevent the further net loss of low-income housing from our City by requiring CHA to replace standing public housing units on a one-for-one basis as a condition of accessing city-controlled affordable housing financing moving forward. As many as 1800 at-risk units will be preserved through this policy alone, either through rehabilitation or reconstruction.
- Encourage CHA to rebuild public housing by preventing the sale or swop of CHA-owned land until CHA produces a Replacement Housing Plan demonstrating how and where it will build the number of replacement public housing units CHA committed to build when it demolished the old communities.
- Require CHA to fully use available housing vouchers in order to access City funding for its projects. Less administrative fees and service program costs, CHA receives enough funding for its voucher program to circulate at least 9,000 more housing vouchers to families. We propose the phase-in of 3,000 additional vouchers each year until CHA reaches 97% utilization of available voucher funds.
- Advance fair and affordable housing across all of Chicago’s neighborhoods by requiring CHA to increase resources for mobility counseling to ensure voucher holders are able to access all communities, not just low-income neighborhoods.
Be part of our movement to end homelessness! Take Action today!
List of sponsors:
The following Aldermen agree that it is unacceptable for thousands of families to struggle and go homeless unnecessarily when the resources exist to help them. These Aldermen are taking a stand that CHA needs to be reformed, and City Council needs to be more involved in the oversight of CHA.