The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Public Housing in Chicago:
Handing Money to Developers

May 8, 2017

Starting in the late 1990s, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) knocked down much of the high-rise public housing in the city. They claimed they had to knock these buildings down because they were in terrible disrepair, which was true – because the city had spent decades letting the buildings rot. The CHA promised to replace the units they destroyed with other options – but those options have yet to materialize, nearly twenty years later.

So what are they doing today? The CHA has done everything it can to funnel money to rich developers. For example, developer Related Management bought the public housing complex of Parkway Gardens in Woodlawn for 40 million dollars in 2011. When fully rented, this housing complex brings the company 10.5 million dollars a year off of nearly 700 low-rise units.

There is a ten-year waiting list to get into public housing like Parkway in Chicago, so this company is all but guaranteed to keep Parkway fully rented. And the rents Related Management charges the city are higher than elsewhere in the neighborhood. Plus, this same company received more than 30 million dollars in federal tax credits for taking over a public housing complex. So CHA allows Related Management to draw tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed profits, funded by working-class taxpayers.

The ten-year waiting list for public housing shows that housing is a real problem in Chicago. The cause is obvious: rents are too high, and wages are too low! But instead of dealing with this problem, the city government devotes its resources to propping up the profits of the big corporations.