Panelists Discuss Their Local Region’s Approach to Addressing Housing Mobility

In a session moderated by CLPHA President and King County (WA) Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman, panelists from the Chicago and Baltimore areas revealed the history and strategy behind their development and implementation of successful housing mobility programs in their metropolitan areas.

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Executive Director Eugene Jones, BRicK Partners LLC Founder and Principal Robin Snyderman, and Cook County Housing Authority Director of Housing Choice Vouchers joined Sheryl Seiling in describing what they termed Chicagoland’s Regional Strategy.

Jones outlined CHA’s strategy, which includes a mobility counseling program comprised of pre-move counseling, housing search assistance, landlord outreach, and post-move assistance, along with a recent mobility demonstration program for families with school children on CHA’s wait list. CHA also commits housing vouchers to the Regional Housing Initiative (RHI). Snyderman sketched out the RHI as a virtual pool of project based housing vouchers contributed by ten of the fifteen housing authorities in Chicagoland. RHI is a way to better coordinate housing delivery among the 280 municipalities in the Chicago region with waitlists and housing developments. Seiling spoke of the challenges inherent to implementing a regional mobility strategy, including landlord participation, the housing stock, the inspection process, insufficient rents, the desire or willingness of families to move, coordination of regional efforts (including the costs involved), sources of funding, and cost savings.

City of Baltimore Housing Authority Associate Executive Director for FHEO Enforcement Amy Wilkinson and Baltimore Metropolitan Council Housing Policy Coordinator Dan Pontious spoke on the origins of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, which arose from a 1995 lawsuit, resulting in the subsequent creation of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership in 2012, and the Baltimore Regional Project Based Voucher Program with its seven participating agencies, modeled after Chicago’s RHI.