The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Chicago Housing—Handouts to the Rich

Jun 20, 2022

Memorial Day weekend of this year, Jeannette Taylor, a mother on Chicago’s South Side, received notice from the Chicago Housing Authority that her application for a housing voucher was accepted. She first applied for a housing voucher 29 years ago, in 1993! Almost thirty years later, Taylor is now the alderperson for Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood: she no longer needs the voucher. Despite waiting nearly three decades, she was told she had only a week to accept CHA’s offer.

Taylor was one of 30,000 people on the waiting list for affordable housing. Rent in Chicago has gone up significantly in recent years. The average apartment, with two bedrooms, is $2,000—out of reach for many working class residents. There is a big shortage of affordable apartments.

The problem was made worse by the city. Twenty years ago, Mayor Daley implemented the Plan for Transformation, which knocked down much of the city’s public housing. The “Plan” was to replace that housing with new, mixed-income developments. Of course, very little of this was built. For example, the plan called for 3,000 new or “revitalized” units at the ABLA homes on the Near West Side. Developer Related Midwest got a contract to build 2441 of those. More than fifteen years later, fewer than half of the promised units have been built.

CHA is supposed to house Chicagoans, which they are not doing. But one thing they are taking care of is the Chicago Fire soccer team, owned by a local billionaire. CHA has agreed to lease a very large property and 25-acre empty field that used to be home to several thousand before the Plan for Transformation.

That’s how the CHA works—giving contracts to big developers, signing leases with sports teams. Anything to put money into the pockets of the wealthy. And almost nothing to house working class Chicagoans.