January 29 – Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the nomination of Eugene “Gene” Jones, Jr. as CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) after serving as Acting CEO since June of 2015.
“As Acting CEO, Gene has already made significant progress at the CHA by accelerating development deals and housing production to get more than 500 units under construction in just seven months time,” said Mayor Emanuel. “He has cultivated relationships with residents and other stakeholders as he accomplishes CHA’s goals of creating affordable housing and building vibrant, mixed-income communities.”
Jones has extensive housing and real estate development experience working for public housing authorities in Toronto, Detroit, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans and California.
“The CHA Board of Commissioners is very pleased with Gene’s performance thus far and the accomplishments of the agency under his direction,” said CHA Board Chairperson John T. Hooker. “We look forward to the CHA’s future with Gene at the helm.”
Capital development under Jones’ leadership moved at an expedited pace, leading to a 25 percent increase in development spending compared to 2014. Eight projects, for a total of 531 units, are currently under construction at Parkside, Casa Queretaro, Rosenwald, Sterling Park, Atlgeld and City Gardens. He has pushed development plans forward in crucial locations including ABLA, Cabrini-Green, Ickes and Lathrop Homes.
Additionally, Jones added 111 units to the City’s affordable housing stock last week with the acquisition of Presbyterian Homes’ entire Chicago portfolio, preserving the homes of senior citizens who currently live there and creating new opportunities for older Chicagoans seeking affordable housing in the City.
“While I’m proud of the agency’s progress over the last seven months, there is more work to be done as we work to reinvigorate the CHA and improve affordable housing options in Chicago to better serve residents and communities,” said Jones.
Jones has also focused on increasing job and business opportunities for CHA residents through the CHA’s Section 3 program by launching a pilot program providing grants to Section 3 individuals and businesses, up to $5,000 or $20,000 respectively, to gain employment or start a business.
He increased housing opportunities by accelerating leasing of housing choice vouchers and working with advocates to establish special programs for homeless families and ex-offenders.
“Mr. Jones has been a great collaborator with our organization,” said Gloria Davis, a leader with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “He has shown that he understands public housing needs to be made available for homeless families and individuals. We look forward to continuing our work with him.”
“Eugene E. Jones Jr. is a man of honesty and integrity that is well-rounded, empathic and open minded,” said Francine Washington, Chairperson of the Central Advisory Council and public housing resident. “He pays attention to everyone and everything and he believes in CHA residents, staff and supporting our efforts to make progress. He brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to CHA as well as the residents. He says what he means and means what he says. We thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for bringing us strong leadership.”
In October of 2015 Jones and CHA Board Chairperson John T. Hooker hosted an Open House for the public at the CHA headquarters, sharing a renewed vision for the agency and key initiatives. They continue efforts to build trust and promote transparency in the agency.
Building on the record 2,500 youth in paid employment and learned experiences over the summer, the CHA declared 2016 the Year of the Youth. Last year, Jones formed a committee to help launch several youth-focused activities including the agency’s first-ever Big Brothers Big Sisters workplace program, the creation of a Youth Advisory Council and a Youth Summit event.
The CHA Board of Commissioners will vote on the nomination at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.