This week a newly-appointed Chicago Housing Authority Chairman Jim Reynold got an earful from members of the City Council’s Housing Committee who were critical of agency tenant guidelines, which are considered some of the most stringent in the nation. Alderman Walter Burnett, for one, complained that the “one strike” rule has gone too far.
Under that rule, the CHA has the right to evict an entire household if any one leaseholder is charged with criminal activity. “The grandkid gets in trouble and the whole family
loses the apartment,” Burnett lamented, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. “It’s not
right,” he said.
Exactly how many families have lost their homes under the rule, and why, remains unknown. It’s a question we began probing the CHA about last month. We requested all “notices of termination” — the actual eviction notice, which includes details of the criminal offense that prompted the eviction — via the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The CHA’s response? Our request was “unduly burdensome.” Check out their response for yourself:
Notice the denial wasn’t just based on the sheer volume of the request. CHA also pointed out that the documents would be so heavily redacted that a “limited extent of
information” would remain. Among the details swiped out would be residents’ identities. If each of these cases is based on a criminal complaint, then, barring juvenile offenders, that information should indeed be public.
We’ve since submitted a subsequent FOIA, which we hope will reveal the scope of the evictions and exactly what sort of criminal charges have touched off the proceedings. Stay tuned…