The second Building Successful Mixed-Income Communities forum of 2008 explored the restructuring of CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program.
On June 24, 2008, MPC continued to expand the focus of
its Building Successful Mixed-Income Communities
forum series, this time addressing new
administrative changes to the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Housing Choice
Voucher (HCV) program for an audience of 100 policymakers, advocates, residents,
service providers, and other stakeholders. In addition to offering opportunities
for low-income families to find affordable housing in the private market and new
communities, the HCV Program has played an important role in the relocation of
CHA residents as part of the Plan for Transformation.
The panel, moderated by Paul Fischer,
professor emeritus of politics at Lake Forest College and a member of MPC’s
Resource Board, featured leaders involved in the restructuring and new
administration of CHA’s HCV program: Nan McKay, president of
Nan McKay and Associates; Bill Riley, program director at
Quadel Consulting; Philip Fairweather, representative of Thomas
& Herbert Consulting; Janice Stewart, executive program
director at CVR Associates; and Stan McCright, executive
director of McCright and Associates. Lewis Jordan
of CHA, gave opening remarks.
Jordan updated the audience on
the recent opening of the CHA HCV program waiting list for the first time in
10 years. CHA will use a lottery to select 40,000 families from the more
than 260,000 who applied to compile a new waiting list.
the new structure of
program and expressed his desire for more CHA involvement
and oversight, calling for greater efforts to make voucher holders “good
neighbors” through expanded self-sufficiency programs and increased dialogue
between owners, residents and administrators. “While we feel we are going in the
right direction, we have challenges,” said
including administration technology and addressing the needs of residents,
communities and partners.
Ms. McKay outlined her role in assessing CHA’s Housing
Choice Voucher program, formulating best practices for program management and
facilitating the bifurcation of administrative functions between CHA and its
subcontractors. She praised the degree of collaboration between those involved
in the program, and acknowledged CHA’s increased financial and administrative
control as a means of achieving a new degree of cohesion in its housing
operations. Ms. McKay’s presentation
summarized the technological solutions to streamline operations and provide a
better “customer service” experience to voucher holders
. She stressed, “Why
are we in business if not to serve our clients - families and owners?” Specific
enhancements include two new call centers, job specialization, new computer
systems, and required direct deposit for owners by the end of 2008.
Bill Riley, former executive director of CHAC, Inc., a
subsidiary of Quadel Consulting, discussed the significant progress of the HCV program
, which has grown from serving 14,000 families to 35,000 families
in the past 10 years, including 4,300 relocated CHA residents as part of the
Plan for Transformation. In addition, HCV families now live in every city
community and ward, with 42 percent of families living in “opportunity areas.”
With the help of targeted outreach efforts, the Latino voucher-holder population
has increased from 1 to about 11 percent, and the Choose-to-Own program is now
the most successful in the country, with more than 250 participants. Mr. Riley
stated Quadel will be responsible for 65 percent of the HCV population and
continue its previous roles of managing and maintaining the HCV waiting list and
administering special programs such as Choose-to-Own, Family Self-Sufficiency
(FSS) and mobility counseling, and improving service delivery through
neighborhood satellite offices.
Philip Fairweather described Thomas &
Herbert’s history and role as a subcontractor of Quadel Consulting, operating
two satellite offices for the CHA HCV program, with plans to expand to other
neighborhoods. Mr. Fairweather has been involved in a number of similar projects
across the country and was part of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban
Development’s (HUD) economic development team during the restructuring of the
CHA in the late 1990s.
Janice Stewart explained the role of CVR
Associates in managing 35 percent of HCV units and overseeing communications.
She explained the operation of the program’s new call center, which will ease
the workload of other employees and streamline the customer experience. She also
spoke about the need for better communication with landlords and the desire to
find new owners willing to participate in the HCV program.
Stan McCright outlined new efforts to speed up the
inspection process and facilitate the addition of new units to the HCV program.
Echoing Ms. McKay’s stress on improving service through technology, Mr. McCright
voiced his goals to heighten the inspection call center’s efficiency and expand
internet services to include the online posting of inspection results.
A brief Q&A followed these presentations,
addressing a number of topics, including the need to expand services to
facilitate resident integration into new communities and additional
opportunities to move to self-sufficiency. Panelists also discussed resident
access to the new program, clarifying that existing HCV holders have been
notified via mail of the appropriate satellite office, and that families and
landlords interested in the CHA HCV program should call the main number
(312-935-2600). In response to recent media attention to the HCV program, Mr.
Jordan emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in administering HCV
programs, as well as the need for housing authorities, service providers,
policymakers, and communities “to work collaboratively to fight the notion of
‘who voucher holders are.’”
For information about
past Building Successful Mixed-Income Communities forums and related
, please visit MPC’s web
MPC research assistant Robert Kett contributed to this article.