Chicago Affordable Housing 101: Tenants & Landlords

A basic guide to Chicago Affordable Housing Options for both renters and owners

The Chicago Housing Authority is the third largest public housing agency in the nation. CHA serves more than 20,000 low-income households, by providing safe, decent and affordable housing in healthy, vibrant communities. Public housing provides homes for families, the elderly and those with disabilities from scattered single family houses to apartments for elderly families.

There has long been a stigma against those on the Affordable Housing scheme. Now, with a significant portion of Chicago’s population still financially reeling from the pandemic, the market for affordable housing has increased dramatically in the past year.

For tenants seeking information on how to apply for this affordable housing, they are advised that CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (previously called Section 8) allows low-income families to rent quality housing in the private market via federal funds.

Through this Program, CHA pays a portion of eligible families’ rent each month directly to the property owner. Families can use their vouchers to rent a house or apartment in the private market throughout the city of Chicago.  Because there are more families who need rental assistance than there are funds available, CHA uses a waiting list to administer the program to eligible families. Names are selected for the waiting list randomly using a lottery process. Participants in the HCV program pay approximately 30% of their income for rent and utilities. Applicants are advised to check the eligibility requirements to qualify for the HCV Program before applying.

For landlords interested in having their private property being leased to Affordable Housing applicants, the following steps summarize the process to become an HCV property owner:

  1. Attend Owner Briefing (Recommended)
  2. Market your property
  3. Complete and submit a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA)
  4. Pass Housing Quality Standards CHA owner eligibility screening (HQS) Inspection
  5. Accept CHA rent offer
  6. Execute lease and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract
  7. Comply with HUD and CHA’s rules and regulations

Every Regional provides a resource center that includes a wide range of information, internet access, property listings.  Each resource center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

For more information see the Property Owner Guidebook.

While this route is not for every landlord/property owner, it may be an option for some who have never thought to consider it before. As with non-HCVP tenants, there are pros and cons to this decision that may not be for everyone. This is simply an informative guide meant to explore the many options available to Chicago property owners.

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Some advantages/incentives include:

In order to provide an incentive for property owners to rent units to CHA voucher holders in “Mobility Areas,” the Chicago Housing Authority is implementing a program that provides new HCV property owners an additional lump sum payment equal to the monthly contract rent if they lease a unit to a voucher holder in these designated areas. Effective March 1, 2018, a Mobility Area is defined as a Chicago community area with 20% or fewer of its families with income below the poverty level and a below median reported violent crime count (normalized by the community area’s total population). Some community areas with improving poverty and violent crime rates along with significant job clusters are also designated as Mobility Areas.

Under state law, Illinois property owners who rent to participants in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program may receive property tax abatement (“tax savings”) in an amount up to 19% of a property’s Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). The actual amount will depend upon tax rates, the state equalizer, EAV and the number of qualified units rented to HCV Program participants. This however, is dependent on meeting certain criteria.

CHA portion of rent is guaranteed on-time income so long as inspections are passed and the property is kept in good condition for the tenant(s).

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Some consequences/disadvantages include:

The CHA requires regular inspections of the property to maintain its habitable condition for the tenants. This involves planning, paperwork and if an inspection fails, owners will not receive rental income until the failing items have been corrected.

As this program is for low-income residents, there may be maintenance issues that a financially independent tenant would deal with but a HCVP tenant can not afford. Some of those items are the ones that often crop up in the county inspections.  Others are lease obligations a HCVP tenant can’t cover

Learn More About Chicago Affordable Housing. Give us a shout today.


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(844) 355-6389