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CHA program aims to expand Section 8 vouchers in ‘opportunity’ neighborhoods

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The plan would help expand housing vouchers in more racially and economically diverse areas of Chicago

The Frances Cabrini Rowhouses on Chicago’s Near North Side
Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Brule Laker

Criticized in the past for concentrating subsidized housing in neighborhoods that were both racially and economically segregated, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is rolling out a new pilot program aimed at expanding the vouchers to so-called “opportunity areas.” Located primarily on Chicago’s North Side, these communities are defined by the CHA as census tracts with less than 20 percent of residents living below the poverty level and with less than 5 percent of current residents living in subsidized housing.

According to a report this morning from WBEZ, the Chicago Housing Authority has found that Section 8 families tend to have more success in these areas thanks to better access to good schools, jobs, and mass transit. To incentivize landlords in opportunity zones to accept voucher-holders, the program will award a one-time bonus payment equivalent of one month’s rent. The CHA has reportedly put aside $975,000 for the program with a goal of enrolling 750 new landlords by the end of 2017.