Rally at City Hall Against Proposed Demolition of 1,800 CHA Units

On Friday, October 12th, Chicagoans gathered at City Hall to protest the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) proposed demolition of 1800 public housing units. Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s tenant leaders in conjunction with the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) led the charge against the proposed cuts.

“We need these units leased up not knocked down,” said Executive Director of People for Community Recovery and Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) member, Cheryl Johnson. Ms. Johnson who is a resident of Altgeld Gardens, expressed concern about the more than 600 units slated for demolition at Altgeld Gardens. “This is about our future and ability to stay in our community,” said Johnson. “If they knock these units down, what’s to stop CHA from knocking the rest of our community down.”

After hearing from the hundreds of tenants outside the Mayor’s office on the 5th floor, staff for Mayor Emanuel’s office agreed to meet with coalition representatives to discuss the proposals for demolition. Organizers are hopeful the Mayor will intervene to stop the demolitions.

“The CHA exists for only one reason and that is to provide affordable housing to low-income residents,” said Leah Levinger, coordinator of the Chicago Housing Initiative. “The CHI coalition will continue to raise public awareness around the issue of leasing these units out,” said Levinger. “We are asking that Mayor Emanuel intervene to set the CHA back on track.”

According to the CHI, over 60,000 people are on CHA’s waiting list. This, in a time when Chicagoan’s incomes are down as much as 10%, and local rental rates have – over the past few years – increased by 14%. MTO supports CHI’s efforts to push CHA to lease out more public housing units and opposes the proposed demolition.

For more information or to get involved in this campaign contact MTO community organizer Noah Moscowitz at 773.292.4980 ext 236 or at noah@tenants-rights.org.

President’s 2013 Proposed Budget Increases Rent for HUD-assisted Families

“Obama’s proposed hike to minimum rent for HUD-assisted families could put poorest in the street”


By YanaKunichoff – March 27 2012 – Community Renewal Society


A proposal in the 2013 presidential budget to raise the minimum rent in public housing could put the poorest families at risk of ending up on the street, say advocates.

And what may be most surprising for some people, Pres. Obama’s proposed hike is more than what’s being asked for by the Republicans. Plus, it pitted two local pols against each other over this issue in Washington.

John Bartlett, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Tenants Organization called the proposed increase, which would raise the minimum rent to $75 a month from $50 for all households assisted by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, “horrible.

“People can’t get back on their feet if they don’t have a home, and some of them will lose their home because of this,” said Barlett.

$75 may not sound like much, especially in Cook County, where the average price is $853 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that 19,602 Illinois families in project-based Section 8 housing, supportive housing and those using housing choice vouchers administered by HUD would be negatively impacted by the rent increase.

What’s more, Illinois would be hit harder than the national average: 14.11 percent of households relying on rent assistance here would face an increase, compared to 12.4 percent of households nationally.

“There has been a lot of pressure on discretionary programs in general,” said Barbara Sard, author of the Center’s report on the cuts.  “All of the low-income housing programs are part of the discretionary side of the budget.”

The problems of the recession on low-income people have been compounded by cuts to social programs, which have been accelerating since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the November 2010 election, Sard added.

The proposal to raise the minimum rent in Section 8 housing originally came from the House, which proposed in October 2011 to raise the rent to 12 percent of the local Fair Market Rent, or to $69.45 a month and index it for inflation.

The leader of this push in the House was Republican Rep. Judy Biggert, Chair of the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, from the 13thCongressional District of Illinois, which is in the Southwestern suburbs. And one of the most vocal opponents of the bill was Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez from the 4th Congressional District west of downtown Chicago.

“Raising rents for the poorest of the poor. I just don’t know how this makes sense,” said Rep. Guttierrez, in a February discussion of the rent increase. He had offered an amendment in February to remove the provision from the budget, which he later withdrew.

In response, Rep. Biggert told the subcommittee that increasing the minimum rent for rent-assistance housing would lower the overall cost of the program and allow more people to receive help.

In the end, the difference between the proposal coming from Rep. Biggert–$69.45–and the increase proposed by President Obama–$75–was minimal.

But Sard noted that “for the first time ever the administration proposed an increase in a minimum rent to an even higher level than the Republicans had proposed.”

And when looking at assistance for the “very, very poor,” every penny counts, she said.

“Congress and the president have a lot of discretion as to picking winners and losers,” in the budget cuts, said Sard, and “housing programs are only a small side of the overall budget.”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that, along with raising the minimum rent, the 2013 fiscal year budget is “at least $1.7 billion below the amount needed to fully renew rental assistance provided this year under HUD’s three major rental assistance programs.”

Barlett, from the Metropolitan Tenants Organization,  sees the proposed raise in the minimum rent as part of a larger attack on the poor.

“It’s more of a tax increase on the poor instead of taxing the billionaires.”

Original URL: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2012/03/obamas-proposed-hike-to-minimum-rent-for-hud-assisted-families-could-put-poorest-in-the-street/



Affordable Housing Lottery: Apply Now

The Chicago Housing Authority is accepting applications for tenants who are in need of affordable housing.

Applications will be accepted from June 14, 2010 to July 9, 2010.  Of all applications received, CHA will randomly pull 40,000 names from the list.  These 40,000 applicants will then be placed on the Family Wait List.  If you are put on the Family Wait List, you will be contacted when a subsidized unit is available.  If you are eligible to recieve the subsidy, you will then be able to move into an apartment and your rent will be affordable based on your income.

We all know that affordable housing is hard to find, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to get on the list.

For more information about eligibility, applying, or CHA guidelines, go to CHAwaitlist.org

Testify about Your Experience as a HUD Subsidized Renter

Wednesday, June 30th will be your chance to voice your concerns to Mr. Ed Hinsberger, Chicago Multifamily HUD Director, and Mr. George Gilmore, HUD Neighborhood Coordinator.

HUD Subsidized Renters are invited to attend a HUD Townhall Meeting. This meeting is for property-based Section 8 Chicago HUD Subsidized tenants only.

When: Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Time:   1:00pm till 3:00pm
Where: Access Living
115 W Chicago Ave

The Metropolitan Tenants Organization along with Access Living are providing tenants of subsidized housing a platform to address their concerns regarding maintenance and management of HUD subsidized buildings.

For more information please contact:

Metropolitan Tenants Organization
Farid Muhammad
773.292.4980 x 236


Access Living
Deidre Brewster
312.640.2100 x 132

HUD Information


HUD: Housing Urban Development; the federal department in charge of assuring affordable housing throughout the country in cooperation with local government.

CHA: Chicago Housing Authority; the local governmental power which translates HUD regulations into city policies.

Loan Servicer: The person in charge of each HUD building and unit; tenants should find out who the loan servicer for their building is for problems like repairs.

Occupancy Specialist: The person assigned to each building/unit who deals with recertification and transfer requests.

This sheet covers federal government HUD programs. Anyone living in public housing projects or holding a city certificate should be counseled using the CHA Tenants Handbook – although be aware that HUD has recently taken over some public buildings and the old rules will not apply (in many cases the rent is increased).

1) Section 221 and 236: Under these programs, properties are privately owned by for-profit owners or non-profit organizations. In return for government subsidies, owners place limits on the rents as well as the income of entering tenants.

2) Project-based Section 8: The owner of the building is paid by HUD to maintain his units at an “affordable” rent. HUD provides a loan to the owner with a limited payback plan and at a below market interest rate. The subsidy is tied to the property, so only the current tenant in the unit receives the subsidy.


Many buildings under Sections 221, 236, or 8, which signed contracts 10-20 years ago, are now coming up for prepayment, which means that the owners can take out loans from independent lenders and therefore raise the rents; many tenants will call in panic, realizing that their rent ceiling has disappeared. The landlord must give a 60-day notice if the building is approved for prepayment.

3) Tenant-based Section 8: Tenants with Section 8 certificates or vouchers receive assistance in paying rent but are able to choose to some extent where they live. Typically, the household pays 30% of income toward rent.

a) Certificates: Using a HUD certificate, the tenant pays exactly 30% of adjusted income in a HUD-approved unit. The tenant must report any changes in income so that the rent contribution changes accordingly.

b) Vouchers: Tenants with HUD vouchers receive a fixed amount of government subsidy to be used in any unit meeting HUD quality standards. This flexibility allows the tenants to spend more or less than 30% of income for housing.



Moving: Tenants can only move if family size changes or if apartment is irreparably damaged {severe and verifiable health problems can also be a reason}. If the management refuses a transfer, the tenant can file a grievance and be granted a hearing by HUD. If the tenant has a voucher and wishes to move, the tenant’s local contact person or occupancy specialist is responsible for providing the correct paperwork.

Evictions: A tenant cannot be evicted without definite cause, either nonpayment of rent or extreme proof of negligent damage. HUD tenants must receive a 14-day rather than a 5-day notice for non-payment of rent. Termination of tenancy based on an alleged violation of the lease requires the same 10-day notice. If the tenant wishes to fight an eviction, a grievance should be sent to the management as well as to HUD requesting a hearing, and LAF should be contacted.


The amount of rent charged to each HUD tenant is different, since it is based on income. Tenants must report any change in income, and the management company or landlord is then responsible for sending a notice of rent change; the time line on this process will vary according to the building’s house rules and regulations.

Late Rent: If a tenant’s public assistance check arrives late, he/she should notify both the landlord/management and the social worker. It is a good idea to suggest that the tenant receive checks at a currency exchange, where proof of receipt can be obtained. The tenant has three days from receipt of the check to pay rent.

Repairs: If the tenant has had no luck obtaining needed repairs through management, the tenant’s loan officer should first be informed of the problem {although city inspectors can also be called}. Only after these two steps have been followed should a tenant use a 14-day notice.

Security Deposits: The security deposit should always equal the tenant’s rent; if the rent changes, so will the security deposit, although if rent decreases, no part of the original deposit will be returned. The tenant’s occupancy specialist can help with security deposit disputes.

Guests: Management CAN bar guests from visiting, as they must all check in at the desk, but a tenant can choose to fight a decision by getting a lawyer (LAF).

Landlord Entry: Management is supposed to give the regular 48-hour notice for entry but can require inspections and exterminations. HUD requires yearly inspections and gives management the license to judge an apartment’s neatness and cleanliness. It is difficult to prove harassment or illegal entry.