WIN: CHA Launches Restore Home to Renovate 36 Small- to Mid-Sized Apartment Buildings

“The Chicago Housing Authority doesn’t have the greatest reputation for keeping its promises. So every time it makes a new one, it has something to prove to many Chicagoans.

“The agency owns property in every Chicago ward and, via vouchers or its own housing, serves 63,000 households, with more than 200,000 people on its waiting lists.

“The CHA has announced a program to renovate part of its holdings — a portion that, for a bureaucracy focused on larger sites, can be too easy to neglect. It involves small- to mid-sized apartment buildings and single-family homes — yes, the CHA owns some. These are vacant properties it plans to fix up as part of an initiative called Restore Home.

“The agency discussed details with its board last week. The projected $50 million cost is expected to be part of its 2024 budget, due for approval in December.

“It involves repairs and in some cases gut rehabs to create 217 housing units in 77 buildings, including 36 small- to mid-sized apartment buildings, especially those with two to six flats. And the CHA has a goal of finishing the work in 18 months.

“It’s an aggressive target,” said the agency’s CEO, Tracey Scott.

“Staff and contractors, many working under a federal program to steer job opportunities to those getting housing help, will be laser focused on the mission, Scott said. She said the CHA is in close contact with the city’s Buildings Department to smooth the permit process.

“The vacant properties, many more than 40 years old and with outdated mechanical systems, are among the nearly 900 smaller properties the CHA owns citywide. They are its ‘scattered sites’ portfolio that dates from when the agency, for years accused of reinforcing racial segregation, was under legal pressure to expand holdings beyond Black neighborhoods.

“Properties in the program indeed are scattered around the city, but there are concentrations on the South and West sides.

“‘We are definitely focused at this point on trying to turn the ship around,’ Scott said. (Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/27/23)

Preservation Chicago applauds the CHA for focusing additional resources on the renovation of two to six flats in older buildings located in Chicago’s neighborhoods. We’ve long advocated to stop squandering the valuable resource of vacant and abandoned small- to mid-sized apartment buildings. We’ve called for a reduced frequency of emergency demolitions to avoid making new vacant lots. We’ve called for a major investment in neighborhoods to reverse decades of neglect.

We’ve advocated to start stabilizing neighborhood with a policy we call the “Three T’s; Title, Training, and Tools.” Gift title of abandoned homes and buildings to community members and community organizations who commit to renovating them. Provide training in the trades to allow more community members the skills they need to renovate these and others homes in their community. Provide tools and building materials to assist the renovation of these homes and small apartment buildings.

Read the full story at Chicago Sun-Times

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