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CHA To Celebrate Housing Benchmark, But Critics Say It's Behind Schedule

(CBS) -- The Chicago Housing Authority is finally scheduled to fulfill a long-delayed promise this year.

Critics are still asking questions about whether the CHA is hoarding money, instead of providing more housing.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more.

The promise came even before Chicago's notorious high rise projects were torn down. But it's only expected to be fulfilled this year.

When it is, "I'm going to scream in the street," CHA CEO Eugene Jones says.

That is when the agency reaches its goal of 25,000 new units, even though the agency is eight years behind schedule.

Critics charge the CHA has been doing too little building -- while sitting on cash and while the waiting list for housing assistance grows to 120,000. Daniel Hertz of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability sys the CHA had $379 million in 2015 -- more than three times what HUD recommends.

CHA says its cash balances piled up when the financial crisis crippled lending back in 2008.

The watchdogs aren't buying it.

"The plan really went awry, really started falling behind in 2003, long before the housing bubble, so that doesn't really explain why it's taken so long to get there," Hertz says.

Jones insists he's ramped up rehabbing and building, in part by spending down the reserves.

"We're trying to do right by our residents, providing more affordable housing, but also more public housing in this city for all the units that we've torn down," he says.

The CHA says its reserves now stand at $187 million and will be down to $110 million, the federally required minimum, by the end of the year.

The agency says it will add 785 new public housing unit, this year.


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