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Process to hire first HRA director begins in Cook County

The start of the new year brings ambitious expectations for the recently formed Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board in Cook County.

Among the HRA board’s first objectives for 2022 is to hire an executive director, according to Cook County Administrator James Joerke.

Applications are being accepted at this time to the first director of the HRA in Cook County.

The formation of the HRA was a process that largely unfolded in 2021, as the Cook County Board of Commissioners publicly expressed a desire to address the critical issue of housing, or lack thereof, facing the community. The board voted 5-0 to form the HRA during a meeting in August 2021.

The 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.

Five local residents were selected in October to address the community’s housing needs following their appointment to the first ever HRA board in Cook County.

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

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

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Joerke about the HRA’s search for its first director and other topics relevant to local government in Cook County. Audio below.