CHA preps $50M to renovate, sell “scattered site” affordable housing 

Agency plans to renovate 175 units units over the next 18 months

CHA Preps $50M to Renovate “Scattered Site” Affordable Housing
Chicago Housing Authority's Tracey Scott (Getty, Chicago Housing Authority)

The Chicago Housing Authority plans to spend up to $50 million on rehabilitating and renovating its “scattered site” affordable housing portfolio, with plans to eventually sell some houses to low-income buyers.

The affordable housing agency’s scattered sites, which include smaller apartment buildings or single-family homes instead of its larger, more common multifamily complexes, have been a concern for activists who claim the scattered sites are left vacant for long periods of time, exacerbating Chicago’s housing woes. CHA has nearly 2,800 units it considers scattered sites, it says on its website.

The money will go toward renovating about three dozen small- and medium-sized vacant apartment buildings to bring 175 affordable units into leasable condition, according to the CHA. The agency has a years-long waitlist of over 200,000 people seeking an affordable unit, according to previous reports.

“Since the middle of last year, CHA has been assessing vacant properties in our small and medium-sized portfolio. We’ve identified funding and created an approach. The pieces are in place for this major undertaking to begin,” Tracey Scott, the CEO of CHA, said in a statement.

The initiative also includes plans to renovate 40 single-family homes and sell them, with CHA planning to keep 145 single-family homes in its scattered site portfolio. CHA staff and Section 3-qualified contractors will be restoring the apartments over the next 12 to 18 months, Scott said.

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The CHA was mum on details for the plan, like where the $50 million was allocated from, how much it anticipates renovations costing per unit, or how much it plans to sell the houses for.

The program announcement comes several months after the CHA took people living in one of its scattered site properties without permission to court in an eviction case that some housing activists used to highlight the organization’s practices regarding vacant scattered site properties.

In the August court case, a group of people moved into a long-vacant scattered site house in Humboldt Park without authorization from CHA. The residents said the house had been vacant for over two years and took only a couple hundred dollars to make the home liveable. 

The agency will consider the initiative as part of its proposed 2024 budget, which will be voted on at a special board meeting in December.

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