Above: The Cabrini-Green high rises on the North Side were torn down as part of Chicago’s broader plan to redistribute public housing. Photo by David Wilson CC 2.0.

The Better Government Association testified in support of heightened transparency and accountability within the Chicago Housing Authority at a Feb 17 meeting of the Chicago City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate.

The meeting was a subject matter hearing on the proposed “Keeping the Promise” ordinance, which seeks to increase accountability and oversight of the CHA’s expenditure of funds and provision of housing options. It has been reported that the CHA is holding millions in cash reserves, while tens of thousands of families and seniors are on the CHA waiting lists.

BGA Policy Analyst Alexandra Gilewicz spoke to the BGA policy team’s difficulty in obtaining a plan that has been referenced in media reports by CHA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials, for using these reserves on important housing developments.

In light of these difficulties and the apparent need for heightened transparency within the agency, the BGA policy unit supports provisions of the proposed “Keeping the Promise” ordinance that would address this lack of clarity. These provisions would institute quarterly reporting by the CHA before the Council’s housing committee and make city funding contingent upon clearer performance standards.

Read Gilewicz’s prepared testimony below. Click here to view the BGA’s FOIA request, and click here to see the CHA’s response. The BGA’s policy unit operates independently of the watchdog group’s investigative reporting team.