The Housing Authority of Cook County is reopening the County’s Housing Choice Voucher List

The “Suburbanization of Poverty: Part two of a three-part special on affordable housing in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois

As the cost of living in Chicago has steadily increased, many of Chicago’s lower-income residents have taken flight for the surrounding suburbs. The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), in the last several years, has seen a higher demand for public housing just outside the city.  Richard Monocchio, executive director of the county’s Housing Authority, said: “Right now, we have as many poor people living outside the city of Chicago as there are inside the city.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke on the legacy of poverty at The STEP Summit. The Mayor stated how she plans to end poverty in a generation adding, “Poverty is killing us; literally and figuratively killing us. All of us.” The issue of affordable housing has taken a front seat with city and county leadership. The Housing Authority of Cook County is reopening the county’s Housing Choice Voucher list. “We want to make sure we have people on the list to lease vouchers to when they become available,” Monocchio said. The move comes as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other county leaders plan to launch an Affordable Housing Task Force this spring to study ways to increase low-income housing options.

The Housing Authority plans to open the waitlist in the next few months and have a lottery to give people a spot. The HACC list could be capped at about 10,000 people as a way to get people on the waitlist into a home in a reasonable amount of time. Last year, individuals who qualified were capped at making around $31,000 a year. Families of four earned just under $45,000.

The Housing Authority has been investing about $225 million to rehab its high-rise buildings. HCCA also plans to build new housing for the first time in about a decade with a mixed-income building in the northern suburb of Evanston and one for veterans in the southern suburb of Chicago Heights.

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