The Chester Housing Authority (CHA) was chartered in July of 1937 by the City of Chester. Today, the CHA owns and operates four family developments and one senior tower development, currently serving a total of approximately 780 families. The CHA also administers more than 1300 Section 8 certificates and vouchers, serving approximately 1357 families. The first developments were built for the CHA in the 1940s to serve the workers of the city's wartime industry boom. However, throughout the coming decades, continued mismanagement led to the CHA's designation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a "troubled" housing authority.
By November of 1991, HUD had found the CHA in substantial breach of its Annual Contributions Contract with HUD. As a result, the City and Board of Commissioners of the CHA voluntarily relinquished control of the CHA to HUD, in hopes that direct HUD control could help rebuild the CHA.
However, when this failed to happen, and as a consequence of a class action lawsuit asserting "constructive abandonment" brought by the residents of the CHA in the early 1990s, Honorable Norma L. Shapiro of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appointed Robert C. Rosenberg as Receiver of the CHA, to report directly to the Court. The Receiver assumed control of the CHA for the Court on August 31, 1994.
The CHA began to turn the corner immediately. A security force was created, in cooperation with the City, to take the streets back from the drug dealers and criminals who had made it unsafe for children to play outside. This armed security force would eventually gain full arrest powers in 2000, making it a fully effective police force.
The Receiver recruited and hired fully qualified and enthusiastic personnel for the CHA, and, by June 1997, CHA operations and management had improved at a staggering pace, and the CHA came off of HUD's troubled list for the first time, achieving standard performer status.
The Receiver also pulled two major rehabilitation projects back onto their feet, beginning the total rebuilding of the CHA's four family developments. Matopos Hills (formerly the Ruth L. Bennett Homes) was completed in May 1998 and the William Penn Homes in March 1999.
The CHA's path of rebirth was also spurred by the award of two HOPE VI grants. In July 1997, the CHA received $15 million for the redevelopment of Lamokin Village, and in August 1998, it received a $9.7 million HOPE VI grant for the redevelopment of McCaffery Village. The crumbling old buildings were demolished, and new, modern family housing will stand in its place. In addition, in March 1998, the One Stop Shop opened, providing residents' with employment opportunities and economic development through job training, entrepreneurial grants, and mentoring.
In order to overcome the stigma attached to our old developments and to erase the negative image of public housing in Chester, three sites were renamed in 2000. Lamokin Village became Chatham Estates; McCaffery Village became Wellington Ridge; Ruth L. Bennett Homes became Matopos Hills. In July 2000, the Chatham Estates Senior Village opened, and in November 2000 ground was broken to begin construction of the Chatham Estates family development. Families will be able to move into their new homes early this year.
The Wellington Ridge construction began in 2001, with the formal groundbreaking in October. The new homes will be ready for occupancy in late 2002. The Shops at Wellington Ridge, a vital component in the revitalization of Chester's west end, was begun in earnest when CHA signed a ground lease with a retail developer in November 2001. It is projected that this facility, to house a much-needed supermarket, will be open in 2005.
With the Receivership winding down, the CHA is now poised to enter a new era of providing the best and safest possible affordable housing for the Chester community, and has served as a catalyst for positive change. – less – More from ZoomInfo »