From Tracey Scott's op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:
Amid unprecedented congressional uncertainty and unfinished business regarding a 2024 budget, federal support for affordable housing is urgently needed in Chicago.
While the House narrowly avoided shutting down the federal government last month, members of Congress have yet to seriously address the critical shortage of affordable housing and rapidly rising rental rates in Chicago and other urban areas. Even in less polarized times, the federal housing dollars that support the lowest-income Chicagoans have not been adequate to ensure everyone has a roof over their heads. What’s concerning is that it’s been widely reported that spending limitations may be in place and that housing funding for rental subsidies, public housing and affordable development tools will take a hit when Congress does get around to passing a budget.
It is no secret that Chicago is facing an affordable housing crisis. The Chicago Department of Housing estimates that the city needs about 120,000 more affordable housing units. Multiple indicators point to a continued rise in rental rates while other financial stressors such as price surges in everyday necessities mean families must stretch their dollars even further. Additionally, the ongoing migrant crisis has increased focus on the city’s lack of affordable housing stock.
Here at the Chicago Housing Authority, more than 200,000 families have already applied for housing on the combined waitlists. CHA is the nation’s third-largest public housing authority, currently serving more than 63,000 households. In fact, 1 in every 20 Chicagoans live in a CHA-subsidized home. About 98% of CHA’s budget comes from federal funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The truth is that public housing authorities around the nation, including CHA, already do not receive enough federal funding to meet the demand for affordable housing, even as the need for it continues to grow. The proposed cuts also come as inflation has led to increased construction costs that are presenting staggering challenges to affordable housing developers’ plans to build more affordable apartments. CHA and others are leveraging federal dollars along with all available tools to preserve existing public housing while also delivering more affordable units. Reduced federal housing funding would leave even more low-income families without stable homes and hamper ongoing development plans.