More CHA Residents Voting Woes


For more than 30 years, residents using project-based Section 8 Housing Vouchers within the City-State properties have participated in Tenant Council Elections along with the residents living in public housing units at the sites, according to Robert Whitfield, an attorney representing the CHA resident councils. But, for this election, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development put a stop to that before the November 2004 resident elections.

These residents living in the CHA City-State properties were stripped of their voting privileges because they were not developed under the United States Housing Act of 1937 and are not eligible for operating subsidy because they do not qualify as public housing developments, according to HUD.

“The regulations say it’s for public housing. City-State is not public housing. Public housing is federally funded, and those projects are not federally funded,” said Janet Elson, a regional counsel for HUD’s Illinois regional office during an interview in December.

CHA spokesperson Derek Hill said HUD allowed the residents of their CHA City-State properties to vote in all of these years.

“I think it was permissible by HUD in the past to do so because we were overseeing the City-State. But we don’t run it or control it. We just oversee it because it’s public housing. They are not our properties. They are City-State,” he told RJ in late December.

Elson, who worked on CHA issues for over 15 years, said to her knowledge it wasn’t allowed by HUD.

“They should be able to answer [why] themselves. We never allowed it, as far as I know of, as far as from a legal perspective,” she said.

CHA and CAC representatives asked Elson for the interpretation of the regulations, she said. That is how the HUD legal department found out that these residents had been voting in the past.

“We got an official request this year asking for the interpretation of the regulations. The long and the short of it is that the legal department here was not asked previously, and we looked at the regulations. We gave our opinion and hopefully it was followed properly,” Elson said.

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