Chicago, IL (November 9, 2015) – Over 40 leaders representing the Puerto Rican Agenda convened at the former management offices of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation’s (HHDC) on Saturday, November 7, 2015 for a special discussion on the dismal Latino participation in Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) programs. Special guests included CHA’s Chief Executive Officer, Eugene Jones, Aldermen Joe “Proco” Moreno (1st ward), Migdalia Santiago (31st ward), Gilbert Villegas (36th ward), and Roberto Maldonado’s (26th ward) Chief of Staff, Kathleen Oskandy.
The meeting was prompted by the unexpected termination of the HHDC contract for managing 1,100 CHA scattered sites throughout Puerto Rican Chicago for the past 26 years. Puerto Rican Agenda members as well as local elected officials are gravely concerned about the implications of another management company assuming responsibility without affordable housing experience nor capacity for bilingual services.
HHDC’s dismissal contributes to CHA’s poor record of outreach to and integration of Latinos in programming, staffing, and leadership. Twenty years ago, a class-action lawsuit initiated by Latinos United resulted in Latino consent decrees mandating CHA to target resources specifically to expand access to the Latino community, yet not much progress has been made according to a recent analysis by the Latino Policy Forum. Latinos represent roughly one-fifth of the eligible population who can access CHA programs, but less than 10 percent of current participants.
Furthermore, the recent release of the CHA Diversity Marketing and Outreach Services RFP, a legacy piece of the consent decrees and a contract currently carried out by Erie Neighborhood House, makes no specific mention of Latinos nor articulates explicit dollar amount for grant recipients. This distinct departure from previous RFPs comes as another surprise and without explanation.
Saturday’s meeting sent a clear message to CHA: Latinos are not to be discounted and deserve nothing less than proactive, intentional, and targeted investment to remedy decades of discrimination, but most importantly, to provide access to one of the most basic human rights-the right to shelter.
For more information: Cristina Pacione-Zayas