CHICAGO — A waiting list with the names of 85,000 people needing housing assistance from the Chicago Housing Authority could soon shrink and make way for new applicants if those on the list miss a Jan. 18 deadline.
“With such a critical housing need in the city of Chicago, this update will allow us to house people faster and to more efficiently provide public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers to tens of thousands of low-income residents,” said Charles Woodyard, chief executive officer of the Chicago Housing Authority.
Since Dec. 3, applicants waiting to move into public housing or receive a HCV (often referred to as Section 8) have been updating their information, such as addresses and phone numbers, to remain active, said Stacey Fields, the CHA's director of Administration and Asset Management.
"We have made an aggressive attempt to contact everyone on the list by mail, phone or email," she said. "If applicants do not update their information by the deadline they will be removed from the list."
Fields added that should an applicant be removed they would be placed back on the list if they contact the CHA by Feb. 28.
"Basically if they contact us by then they would be added back on the list, but only after they complete additional paperwork," Fields said.
The 85,000 people on the waiting list does not include a separate waiting list of 6,000 seniors age 55 and up. A waiting list for senior housing is open and Fields said applicants interested should sign up. For more information about senior housing, call the CHA at 312-742-8500.
The 85,000-person waiting list also doesn't include people on a separate list reserved for those displaced in 1999 when the CHA began its transformation plan that resulted in public, high-rise buildings being demolished. Applicants on that list get first preference when a unit becomes available, Fields said.
Applicants have several ways to update their information. They could go online to chawaitlistupdate.org, call 888-223-7039 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or visit one of nine CHA computer labs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, including at the headquarters at 60 E. Van Buren St.
According to Deanna Wheeler, CHA director of administration, Housing Choice Vouchers, there are 36,000 HCVs now in use. Those with HCVs use them to help pay rent at privately owned apartment buildings, provided the landlord accepts the vouchers.
Fields said the agency continues to try to reach people on the list who may not know about the update.
"About 50 to 70 percent of the mail we sent to applicants was returned undeliverable," Fields said. "When this happens we try to reach them by phone or email if they have one one file. We have sent out 42,000 emails [so far] to applicants."