As part of a story about corruption at the DuPage Housing Authority, the Chicago Tribune provides an update on the recent history of the organization:
But investigators have asked plenty of questions lately about how DuPage housing officials spend the $22 million in federal funds they get annually.
Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has audited the DuPage Housing Authority three times, concluding the troubled agency violated numerous federal regulations and must pay back $10.75 million in misused tax money.
HUD has determined DuPage must repay that money to its Section 8 housing program because it didn’t allow competition for projects, failed to properly document whether many tenants were eligible to get subsidized rent, made inappropriate credit card purchases and, in some cases, overpaid benefits.
This is not a whole lot of federal money, particularly in a county with a population over 900,000 and a poverty rate of around 6% (this site has 2009 figures of a poverty rate of 6.5% and the 2008 Census had an estimate of 5.8%). But the DuPage Housing Authority has an interesting history. If I remember correctly from research I have done, the group was formed in the 1940s and had some federal money to work with. But by the early 1970s, the Housing Authority had not built any units within the county and HOPE, an organization now in Wheaton, sued the county for housing discrimination, primarily for exclusionary zoning practices. The court case, Hope v. County of DuPage (the 1983 version here), lasted for over a decade and here is a brief summary of the conclusion in a law textbook. It is only within recent decades that the Housing Authority has developed units.
This is perhaps not too unusual considering the political conservatism of a county that has been solidly Republican since the the 1860s. But as the lawsuit from the early 1970s alleged, the county has continued to change: more immigrants and minorities have become residents, housing values went up, a number of communities limited construction of apartments, and there are a good number of lower-paying jobs in wealthier communities. Add this all up and there are affordable housing concerns within a wealthy county and this extends beyond the common suburban debate about “work-force” housing for essential government employees like teachers or policemen or providing cheaper housing for young graduates and/or older residents.