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CHA Seeks Partners to House Low-Income Residents

By Wendell Hutson | September 20, 2013 7:42am
 East Lake Management & Development Corp. is a participant in the Chicago Housing Authority's Housing Choice Voucher program for low-income residents.
East Lake Management & Development Corp. is a participant in the Chicago Housing Authority's Housing Choice Voucher program for low-income residents.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

CHICAGO — Landlords interested in partnering with the Chicago Housing Authority to help provide housing to low-income tenants should plan on attending the agency's sixth annual CHA Owner Symposium next month.

Advance registration is required to attend the free event, which is from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

The keynote speaker for the event, which includes lunch, is John Markowski, president of Community Investment Corporation and a CHA commissioner. Topics to be discussed at the symposium include property management, evictions, inspections, rent determination, property renovation, mortgages and real estate market projections.

Last year 900 people attended, and this year more than 1,000 are expected, said Deonna Wheeler, director of the CHA's Housing Choice Voucher — or Section 8 — program.

"We see it as one of the largest events in Chicago for property owners," Wheeler said. "And it is open to all property owners inside and outside of Cook County."

The purpose of the symposium is to provide information to property owners interested in the housing voucher program, and to recruit them to participate, Wheeler said.

Currently the CHA has 36,746 vouchers being used and 13,737 property owners participating in the program. The agency recently reduced its waiting list for housing assistance from around 85,000 to 42,027.

"A [voucher] holder pays 30 percent of their adjusted income towards rent and the CHA pays the remaining balance," Wheeler said. "We spend $30 million a month providing housing assistance."

If property owners are unable to attend the event Wheeler said they could still join the program after attending a landlord workshop. All potential property owners must pass a criminal background check and must not owe any debts to the city of Chicago.

"They must also own the property too. We check for all of this with property owners before they are allowed to participate," Wheeler said.

Inspections of units and properties occupied by voucher holders are done annually and property owners must be willing to accept payment through direct deposit to participate. Vouchers are not only used at apartment buildings but also rental homes too, Wheeler said.

East Lake Management & Development Corp. is one property owner that participates in the program for the CHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It has 13,000 units including buildings in Englewood, said Eileen Rhodes, a vice president at East Lake.

"We have 13,000 units in our portfolio and that includes thousands of units for low-income households," Rhodes said. "This program is one of the most robust ways a landlord could provide housing assistance to families."

The Bronzeville-based property manager sees it as its duty to participate in programs that provides stable housing for the poor, she said.

"Everyone is entitled to have a good place to live," Rhodes said. "The bulk of our portfolio is  affordable housing units and that's OK with us because we like being known for providing a safety net for families."

For more information about the symposium, call 312-935-2600.