Housing authorities collaborate to build more homes, connect more families to opportunities
“That's why I wanted to get involved with it: a better area for opportunity for jobs and schools… It wouldn't have been possible without the help of the program for me to get to this safe environment. I advise anyone that's looking for a better housing environment to sign up for the program because it's really awesome.”
—Angela Nash, Voucher Pilot Participant
Since its foundation in 1934, MPC has been committed to integrating quality homes affordable to families at a range of incomes—including very low-income households—into communities with transportation options, job opportunities and quality schools. To address the region's housing challenges, MPC, BRicK Partners, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), and 10 housing authorities in the region are collaborating through the Regional Housing Initiative (RHI), to support affordable and mixed-income housing developments in opportunity areas. Since 2002, the public housing authorities participating in RHI have pooled a portion of their available rental assistance vouchers to provide long-term support for the rehabilitation or construction of multifamily, affordable rental homes in “opportunity” communities across the region—places with quality schools, transportation choices and good jobs. This has allowed RHI to create 406 apartments in 28 successful developments around the region.
Although housing authorities can spend as much as $1 million each year helping people with vouchers move, we found that most voucher holders were still struggling to move to areas with better opportunities. To improve families’ outcomes, the Chicago region’s multiple housing authorities conducted a three-year pilot, funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and facilitated by MPC. We tested strategies included a regional (rather than authority-by-authority) waiting list for families who want to move into RHI developments, as well as additional policies and tactics to streamline and improve the process for voucher holders who want to move. Through our experiences, we have developed a blueprint for successful regional housing authority collaboration for other cities working to improve housing mobility.
“Creating housing opportunities that people can afford in all areas of Cook County is a high priority for us. And RHI has made this possible.”
—Richard Monocchio, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Cook County
To help more low-income families find homes in attractive communities across the region, in 2016, the RHI program was institutionalized; the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning now leads this effort in our region. Through MPC’s work on the Cost of Segregation initiative, we will identify new housing solutions to address systemic barriers to a more inclusive region.