The Chester Housing Authority (CHA), after 20 years under control of a federal court judge, has been released from its receivership and, according to federal court Judge Norma L. Shapiro, has earned the privilege of self-determination. To be sure, CHA has come a long way since a late 1980’s lawsuit filed against it for deplorable conditions under which many residents lived. The suit led to a takeover of the authority by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). When HUD was unsuccessful in producing needed changes, it asked Shapiro to assume oversight herself in June 1994. In lifting the receivership, Shapiro cited “dramatic improvements” over the years that include safer property conditions, a better voucher program and housing authority staff members serving on national industry boards.
Decades after dilapidated buildings filled with crime and drugs drove tenants to file a class-action lawsuit against the Chester Housing Authority, the agency has been released from federal receivership. The move, announced Monday, marks the completion of an overhaul of the public housing agency, which had been under the oversight of a federal judge since 1994.
A federal judge terminated the nearly 25-year receivership of the Chester Housing Authority on Dec. 31, saying that the appointed leaders of the agency have made significant progress in helping to turn it around. Judge Norma L. Shapiro issued an order Dec. 31 that returns control of the housing authority to its appointed Board of Commissioners, a move that came after a year of planning. The receivership began in 1990 following a federal lawsuit filed by several residents of housing authority properties who claimed the authority was not providing adequate housing. Many housing units were in disrepair and unsanitary, and the governing body had been overwhelmed by corruption.
Citing a dramatic improvement in performance in recent years, U. S. Judge Norma L. Shapiro has issued an order ending the federal court’s oversight of the Chester Housing Authority (CHA) after 20 years. CHA had been the only remaining housing authority in the nation overseen by a federal judge. CHA tenants filed suit in the late 1980’s against the deplorable conditions under which many public housing residents lived. The suit led to a takeover of the authority by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). When HUD was unsuccessful in producing needed changes, it asked Judge Shapiro to assume oversight herself in June 1994.
Wilbert Jarrett has a lot to be grateful for – a wife and four children who love him, and for the past nearly five years a job with the Chester Housing Authority. Life didn’t seem quite as rosy several years ago when the Chester High grad was convicted for drug possession and sent to prison. But while living in a halfway house after his release, he applied for an assistant mechanic position and was hired at CHA. “A guy makes a mistake; that doesn’t mean we write him off,” said CHA Executive Director Steven Fischer. “People hear the word ‘incarceration’ and they get scared. It is not fair that you make one mistake and your life is over. We have to understand that.”