eTOD Briefs

Chicago Should Add More CHA Units Near Transit

It would deliver huge returns for household budgets, economic opportunity, and the environment

How can the City of Chicago add and preserve more affordable housing near transit? There’s one resource that Chicago should utilize more frequently: the Chicago Housing Authority.

Last year, CNT noted that the CHA Plan for Transformation set our city – and our region – behind in adding and preserving affordable housing near transit. Between 2000 and 2010, the CHA decommissioned and demolished more than 6,000 occupied housing units located near the CTA and Metra train systems. These units were concentrated in buildings neither safe nor decent, but they also have not been replaced at sites with easy access of transit.

Today, with 45,000 names on the waiting list, additional properties like Lathrop Homes undergoing redevelopment, and a growing need for housing for extremely low income (ELI) households, Chicago must replace more of these units. While the CHA has launched programs like the Property Rental Assistance program and the Real Estate Acquisition Program to incentivize developers to scatter public units in private buildings, more work remains to be done to replace the units that have already lost.

But it’s not just a matter of whether those units are replaced. It’s also where. A unit within walking distance to the “L” and access to jobs, as well as good schools, parks, and shopping, can deliver far more opportunity for residents.

The eTOD Calculator demonstrates this point. Imagine an affordable housing building at the Logan Square “L” stop that includes 30 units affordable to ELI households. At this building, one could walk to the CTA Blue Line, 3 bus lines, car share vehicles and a Divvy station. And Logan Square has 57 stores, including a pharmacy and three banks, as well as 4 parks, within a 5 minute walk. With so many options, a family would need fewer cars to get to work, shop, and spend time with the family.

This access to transportation and amenities translates into significant opportunity for ELI households. Compared to an average location in Cook County, with fewer transit routes and lower walkability, a resident in a Logan Square development could:

  • Access 767,573 additional jobs within a 30 minute transit ride;
  • Save $232 on their typical transportation bill every month;
  • Be able take 8 additional transit trips a week, on average; and
  • Generate 41% fewer GHGs from getting around.

Those cost of living savings accrue at locations across the city. If Chicago added more housing for ELI residents at transit hubs, those residents could save more money, access transit more frequently, and get to more jobs. An average Chicago resident spends $807 on transportation in Chicago, but for ELI households, many locations near transit would help them save big money. For example, residents at a 30 unit building would pay:

  • $411 per month at the Belmont stop along the Red, Purple, and Brown Lines; and
  • $489 per month near the Jefferson Park Transit Center along the Blue Line;
  • $557 per month at the Halsted stop on the CTA Orange Line;

If Chicago replaces lost these CHA units near transit, it would create big benefits for household savings, economic mobility, and the environment. Let’s set a goal of including CHA units as 10% of the total in all new TODs through the PRA and REAP programs.

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