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CHA opens waitlist for public housing for 1st time in 4 years

The CHA has opened a waitlist for public housing for the first time in four years. The wait times vary; for some buildings, including Cabrini Rowhouses, the wait is more than 25 years for a one-bedroom. | Google

The CHA has opened a waitlist for public housing for the first time in four years. The wait times vary; for some buildings, including Cabrini Rowhouses, the wait is more than 25 years for a one-bedroom. | Google

The Chicago Housing Authority has opened its waiting lists for public housing and rental vouchers for the first time since 2014.

It also released a list of how long it will take to be interviewed and screened to live in dozens of buildings around the city; in some cases you might have to wait more a quarter-century if you are trying to get a one-bedroom unit in some three-dozen of its buildings. Other buildings, however, have shorter waits.

The housing authority opened waitlists for new applicants for units in its public housing buildings and for subsidized units available through its project-based voucher program last week. The waitlists do not include Section 8 housing.

The authority said the agency will be accepting names for an indefinite period of time.

The last time any of the CHA’s waitlists were open was in 2014 and 260,000 people applied, the Sun-Times reported. The waitlist was only open for a month. CHA then held a random lottery to decide which people to add to the list. About four of every five didn’t make it.

Before that, the waitlists hadn’t been open since 2010.

RELATED: The CHA’s waiting game: A Sun-Times/Better Government Association special report

The waitlists are being reopened because some had become depleted and the housing authority has vacancies, said Ketsia Colinet, director of housing policy at the housing authority.

This time around the process will be different — instead of applying for a spot on a single, lengthy waitlist, applicants can now apply for waitlists set up for specific sites, she said.

The application website offers information and the authority’s various properties and includes the expected wait time to get an interview and be screened for a unit.

The wait times vary widely depending on the location of the building and size of the unit. Studios and one-bedrooms have by far the longest wait times: more than 25 years at some three-dozen sites, including Cabrini Rowhouses, at  900 N. Hudson Ave. and Armour Square Apartments, in the 3100 and 3200 blocks of South Wentworth Avenue.

The shortest wait for a single room is one to three years at Hattie Callner Apartments, 855 W. Aldine Ave.

For a four-bedroom at Altgeld-Murray Homes at 950 E. 132nd Pl., wait times are about three months.

There are also wait times listed for the voucher program, which are generally shorter.

The above table shows some of the wait times to get an interview and screening to live in several CHA buildings. The columns show the wait for 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms units. The full list is at https://applyonline.thecha.org/PopupWaitTimes.aspx. | CHA

The CHA website also includes information on nearby schools, parks and grocery stores. Applicants should also look into the cost of utilities at the sites to get an idea if they will be able to afford them.

Those who were already on the longer waitlist before the change was made have been allowed to pick a specific site waitlist over the summer and are ahead of new applicants.

“This is an opportunity for us to make sure people who are in need of housing have the opportunity to be housed … and for people to be informed when making housing choices,” Colinet said.

Colinet and Derek Messier, chief property officer at the housing authority, couldn’t say how many people they expected to apply this time around, but they did recommend people research the sites before picking a waitlist to join.

Lydia Rodriguez, who heads the Spanish Coalition for Housing, said her organization, as well as the CHA’s other community partners, have been helping applicants get the correct information as they begin to look at locations.

“We’re trying to inform people as much as possible so they won’t lose out on the opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “I’d encourage people to apply no matter what because you never know. Sometimes they don’t qualify, but it doesn’t hurt to try because right now the cost of living is so high why not take the chance.”