Joe Friedrichs

Five Cook County residents selected to serve on HRA board

Five local residents will address the community’s housing needs following their appointment to the first ever Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board in Cook County.

During a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 12, a resident from each district in the county was selected to serve on the board of the recently created HRA. The following were people were selected:

District 1: Lawrence Doe

District 2: Chris Skildum

District 3: Mary Somnis

District 4: Chris O’Brien

District 5: Bill Gabler

Board members on the HRA will serve five year terms, with an inverse rotation among each district based on how high they ranked in the selection process, according to Commissioner Dave Mills. For example, the higher a board member scored during the selection process, the longer their initial term will be, Mills explained.

To learn more about the HRA, the selection process the commissioners used to form the board and for more information about the applicants, click here.

A total of 16 people applied to serve on the HRA, including many “highly-qualified applicants” with diverse backgrounds in housing, development and community planning, according to County Administrator James Joerke.

Expressing a desire to address a critical issue facing the community, the board of commissioners took action in August to approve the formation of an HRA in Cook County. The board voted 5-0 to form the HRA during a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The formation of an HRA was a key talking point as local government looks to play a role in addressing the housing crunch in the community. The proposed HRA will be an entity managed and organized similar to the format of the local Economic Development Authority (EDA). Similar to the EDA, the HRA will have levy authority, though its budget must be approved annually by the county board. The initial budget for the HRA in 2022 is $125,000.

Now that the HRA board is formed, the process to hire a director for the organization will begin. A director is likely to be hired later this year or in early 2022, Joerke previously told WTIP. The director will work to acquire grants and other funding to assist in bringing money to Cook County to build places for people to live.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Joerke about the HRA board and more county news following Tuesday’s meeting. (Audio below).