Chicago Public Housing Wait-List Opens for First Time in a Decade

Lotto ticketThere's a lottery in Chicago that will draw 40,000 winners. Sound too good to be true? Well, kind of, but not too far off.

The Chicago Housing Authority is getting ready to open its "Family Housing Wait List" for the first time in a decade.

After the four-week application window closes this summer, an electronically generated list of 40,000 eligible families will be added to the waiting list. These families will then wait about five to seven years before being given the keys to rehabilitated CHA rental units across the city of Chicago.

The registration window will be open from June 14 to July 9, when applicants can register online at
To qualify for CHA public housing, applicants must be Chicago residents who are 18 years or older, and earn less than 80 percent of the area's median income. According to the Chicago Department of Community Development, the income limits for households looking to apply are as follows:

Household Size80% of Area Median Income

The list, which has been closed since 1999, is used to select eligible applicants to live in nearly 10,000 rental units built for family housing. This list will place people in scattered-site, family and mixed-income CHA properties. The 5,000 families remaining on the current wait list will be rolled over to the new list, says CHA spokeswoman Kellie O'Connell-Miller. She adds that the new wait list should be active for five to seven years, depending on the turnover rate in existing public housing units and the development of new ones.

There are expected to be nearly 1,000 units becoming available this year.

Residents who are granted these public housing units will either have to go to school, volunteer or work up to 15 hours per week during the first year, and 20 hours per week thereafter; those rules in the CHA Work Requirement Policy were enacted last year.

Chicagoans who are interested in applying for the wait list but have disabilities, or require reasonable accommodations to complete the form online, should contact the ADA/Section 504 Compliance Department at 312-913-7690.

Those who are interested but don't have Internet access should call 311 or 866-784-3242 to find out about nearby locations with free Web access. Other frequently asked questions are answered on the CHA's website regarding the wait list.

To give an idea of how many applications might be received for this lottery: In 2008, after the CHA opened up its wait list for Section 8 housing, 232,000 people applied for 40,000 spots.

As of March 31, the CHA's family wait list was 51.4 percent black, 14.5 percent Latino and 11.2 percent white. In addition, 82.3 percent earned less than 30 percent of the area's median income, while 13.5 percent were disabled.

Sixty-five percent of CHA family-housing leaseholders as of March 31 were female.

There are other resources available to Chicago-area residents who are looking for help finding affordable housing. The City of Chicago's official website has a housing page with resources and information, as does the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development also has a site with a wealth of information and a list of housing assistance programs and resources.

See homes for sale in Chicago, Illinois at AOL Real Estate.
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