Seniors Protest Rent Rise

by  Editor-in-Chief

Michael Green has lived in a one-bedroom apartment in a Chicago Housing Authority building at 1531 N. Sheridan Avenue on the North Side for the past 14 years. The 55-year-old used to receive disability aid but he now works at a hospital. He wants to own a condominium of his own but says that dream will now be more difficult to achieve. The reason: CHA raised his rent by $415, from $322 to $737 a month.

“If they hadn’t went up on me … my next step would have been in a condo,” Green said. “I was setting my sights on a condo. But now they’ve hindered me from doing that.”

Green’s rent rose due to a rent policy change the housing authority implemented in 2006. CHA now demands residents decide whether their rent will be a “flat-rate rent” based on market rates or an “income-based rent” calculated according to family income.

At the March CHA board meeting, residents said the rent changes are making it harder for residents to move toward self-sufficiency, a big part of CHA’s $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation.

Gone is the “ceiling rent,” a cap on how much a resident would have to pay for their unit. The changes are angering many residents and their leaders, forcing some, as Green put it, “between a rock and a hard place.”

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Transforming CHA: How To Save On Rent


I am all for redevelopment and I am sure most residents are. I also would like to say that most of the new private managers are really trying to work with residents. But when it comes to the One Strike issue and lease compliance, I and other residents I’ve talked with feel this policy hurts some residents who really want a better life for the residents of CHA and to be rid of drugs and gangs. Many Chicago public housing residents don’t know about CHA’s Income Disregard Policy, which could benefit working residents by keeping their rent low and giving them a chance to save money.

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