The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is a municipal corporation established by the State of Illinois in 1937 with jurisdiction for the administrative oversight of public housing within the City of Chicago. The agency's mission is guided by a Board of Commissioners appointed by the city's mayor, and has a budget independent from that of the City of Chicago. CHA is the largest rental landlord in Chicago, with more than 50,000 households. CHA owns over 21,000 apartments (9,200 units reserved for seniors and over 11,400 units in family and other housing types). It also oversees the administration of 37,000 Section 8 vouchers. The current CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority is Mr. Charles Woodyard. Woodyard is the former CEO of Charlotte Housing Authority.
The Chicago Housing Authority has built a number of public housing projects over the years. The first director of CHA was Elizabeth Wood, from 1937 until 1954. The Lathrop Homes were built in 1939. The Francis Cabrini and William Green Homes was started in 1942, ABLA is a complex of buildings started in 1943, Stateway Gardens was started in 1955, and Robert Taylor Homes was started in 1962. Between 1950 and 1969, the housing authority built 11 high rise projects for public housing, which isolated the extreme poor in "superblocks" that were not easily patrolled by police vehicles. Most of the households were headed by females, and the developments were almost entirely African American. Cabrini–Green, Henry Horner, Harold Ickes were just some of the developments. The Robert Taylor Homes, constructed in 1962, was the largest public housing project in the United States, claiming more than 4,000 units. CHA created the Chicago Housing Authority Police Department (CHAPD) which was formed in 1989 and was dissolved in 1999.
In 1966, Dorothy Gautreaux and other CHA residents brought a suit against the CHA, in Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority. It was a long-running case that in 1996 resulted in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) taking over the CHA and the Gautreaux Project in which public housing families were relocated to the suburbs.
In 2000, the CHA began its Plan For Transformation, which called for the demolition of all of its gallery high-rise buildings because they failed HUD's viability test and proposed a renovated housing portfolio totaling 25,000 units. In April 2013, CHA created Plan Forward, the next phase of redeveloping public housing in Chicago. The plan includes the rehabilitation of homes, increasing economic sales around CHA developments and providing educational, job training to residents with Section 8 vouchers.
"Understanding Chicago's High-Rise Public Housing Disaster", in Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, and Alternatives, edited by Charles Waldheim and Katerina Reudi Ray (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
"How Did Public Housing Survive the 1950s?", Journal of Policy History, 17:2, Spring 2005, 193–216.