Seeing Improvements, Questioning Priorities: Updating "A Fiscal Review of the Chicago Housing Authority"
January 13, 2017
In 2014, CTBA released a report showing that the Chicago Housing Authority had accumulated over $400 million in reserves, in part by issuing an average of 13,000 fewer housing vouchers per year than the Authority was funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to do.
In this report, CTBA provides two important updates on this situation. First, CTBA finds that the CHA has significantly improved its provision of housing vouchers, reaching nearly 90 percent utilization in 2015. However, because HUD has lost a significant accountability mechanism to encourage local public housing authorities to disburse this level of vouchers, we believe that the issue bears close attention going forward.
Second, CTBA finds that in 2011 and 2012, the CHA used $233 million of its reserves to pay down pension debt and bond debt early. While the CHA will realize savings from this decision, it carries a tradeoff, in that those funds could have been used to provide additional housing assistance in those years, at a time when demand for assistance greatly exceeded the amount available. More transparency would allow these kinds of tradeoffs to be clearly presented to the public so it can weigh in on its priorities.