Lightfoot chooses Minneapolis public housing chief to make leap to CHA

Lightfoot chooses Minneapolis public housing chief to make leap to CHA

Mayor Lori Lightfoot | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Tracey Scott replaces Eugene Jones Jr., who resigned last fall, then was forced out immediately after accepting a job in Atlanta.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Friday chose the interim executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to make the giant leap to Chicago.

In one fell swoop, Tracey Scott goes from a system that serves just 26,000 residents to a Chicago Housing Authority nearly triple that size — the second largest in the country.

The CHA has an operating budget of $1 billion. It serves more than 63,000 low-income families, owns more than 21,000 public housing units and manages 47,000 housing choice vouchers.

Outsiders have a history of being eaten alive by Chicago’s unique brand of politics. But Lightfoot has not been afraid to go outside the city in filling pivotal jobs in her administration.

She also chose Detroit planning chief Maurice Cox to serve as Chicago’s planning and development commissioner.

“Tracey’s breadth of experience and dedication for improving public housing makes her a perfect fit to lead the Chicago Housing Authority as we embark on our ambitious agenda to transform our city’s economic landscape,” the mayor was quoted as saying in a statement.

Noting that Scott also held top jobs at the Atlanta Housing Authority, Lightfoot said she looks forward to working with Scott to “provide access to safe, affordable housing” for all Chicagoans.

The mayor’s news release quoted Scott as saying she was “honored” to be chosen and “very excited” by the challenge.

“I look forward to bringing new ideas, innovation and perspective to the CHA and to work alongside city leaders and community members to increase partnerships and housing solutions that will help more low-income families and children in Chicago thrive,” Scott was quoted as saying.

The CHA has been under interim leadership since early September. That’s when Eugene Jones Jr. abruptly resigned, ending a highly-acclaimed, 4 1/2-year run that brought stability to an agency that needed it and compassion to public housing residents.

Jones was supposed to stay longer after resigning, but was asked to leave immediately after accepting a job in Atlanta.

The news release announcing Scott’s appointment talks about the new public housing community she developed for homeless families in Minneapolis. It also credited Scott with initiating the city’s “first project utilizing tax credits in a $26 million rehab” of a 184-unit property.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Scott launched a “Stable Homes, Stable Schools” a rental subsidy partnership that included the city of Minneapolis and its public schools.

Scott’s tenure in Minneapolis was not without controversy.

Last year, an apartment fire in a Minneapolis building without sprinklers killed five residents. The fire raised questioned about the housing authority’s maintenance priorities amid a massive backlog of repairs.

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