Transforming CHA: Making Connections

by Bobby Watkins 

The Chicago Housing Authority recently put out a large contract to the City Department of Human Services to run the Service Connector program, which is supposed to start this summer.

But the Service Connector program started last November. Residents who applied to the Service Connector program were supposed to be trained by AmeriCorps. The program aimed to hire two residents from each development. Two residents from Lathrop Homes, for example, went into the AmeriCorps training program. After completing training, an office is supposed to be set up on the development this summer. The two residents hired were supposed to work with other residents to make the relocation transition easier and to help with social issues, jobs, educational programs, family statistics and anything else that might benefit residents.

I spoke with one resident who was with the AmeriCorps program. She had applied to work with the Service Connector program. She was trained at one of the City Human Services Department centers. She felt she would have been qualified to really benefit residents at the end of their training. But she left before the end of the training because she felt she was lied to.

She was told at the beginning of the program that she would be paid $750 every other week. But during the training, she was only given $391 twice monthly and a $4,800 scholarship at the end of the program. Now I understand the program is about to get off the ground. If it works the way it is proposed, the Service Connector program will coordinate services, help residents with economic and self-sufficiency, lease compliance, employment, and family stability.

These are just a few of the services that will be available for residents under the provisions of the CHA transformation. As well as these services, there will be case managers and resident service advocates and service coordinators for each development. Let’s hope this will better prepare residents for the new change.

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