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Aldermen Call For More Council Oversight Of Chicago Housing Authority

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some aldermen have said a hoard of money at the Chicago Housing Authority is evidence someone needs to keep a closer watch on the agency.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) is one of at least 15 aldermen backing an ordinance that would give the City Council more oversight over the CHA. Currently, the City Council has the authority to confirm the mayor's appointments of CHA board members, but has no direct authority in regards to the CHA budget or operations.

Among other changes in oversight, the ordinance would require the CHA to submit quarterly reports on its progress and plans for building housing, the amount of vacant and offline public housing, utilization of housing vouchers, housing inspections, and unspent revenue.

A recent study revealed the public housing agency has cash reserves of $432 million.

"CHA has the funding from taxpayers, and the city, and the state, and this country. They're hoarding this money while we have citizens out there looking for housing. How dare they? How dare they?" Moreno said.


Roderick Wilson, executive director of the Chicago Housing Initiative – a public housing advocacy group – said the money in CHA reserves could do a lot of good.

"With proper oversight and monitoring, CHA has the financial resources to drop homelessness by 12 percent if this ordinance is fully actualized," he said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said if the council can't have oversight of the CHA, the city's top watchdog, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, should.

"The next big step here is to have the inspector general, as we've been pushing for quite a few years now, to have oversight over the CHA, the CTA, and the other sister agencies," he said.

In a statement, CHA officials said Chief Executive Officer Michael Merchant already has taken steps to make the agency's dealings more transparent. On Tuesday, the CHA announced it would make quarterly public progress reports.


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