The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) participates in the federal program “Moving to Work,” which frees it from much of the oversight that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development usually exercises over public housing agencies. Through the MTW program, the CHA can pool federal funding for public housing, capital construction, and housing vouchers into one General Fund and spend money from that fund at its discretion. Normally, such federal funding has to be kept in segregated accounts by program. Because of the financial flexibility the MTW gives the CHA, the agency has been able to divert money intended for the issuance of housing vouchers to other uses.
CTBA’s report, A Fiscal Review of the Chicago Housing Authority, found that over the last five years in particular, the CHA’s reserve funds have grown significantly. During that same five-year period, the CHA had an average annual surplus of $107 million.