Drug testing for every tenant required at two mixed-income developments

The new mixed-income developments that are replacing troubled CHA housing projects have stringent rules for former CHA tenants: to be allowed back, their records must be free of bankruptcies, credit problems or criminal convictions, and they’re required to either work or attend school full time. Drug testing is also required in some cases.

An interesting factoid I picked up on a recent tour of The Arches at Oakwood Shores (replacing the Madden Park, Ida B. Wells and Darrow Homes) and Legends South (replacing the Robert Taylor Homes): all tenants, whether they occupy the public housing units, affordable units or market-rate units that comprise these developments, must submit to drug testing. (There is no drug testing required for buyers.)

“Even market-rate renters have to get drug tested every year,” said Joseph Williams, head of Granite Development Corp., a developer of The Arches, adding that he hasn’t encountered much resistance to this requirement. Whitney Weller, VP of Michaels Development Company, which is developing Legends along with Brinshore Development, agreed, saying, “For most people, it’s not an issue.”

The drug testing requirements were set by so-called “working groups,” made up of developers, CHA resident representatives, community groups and city officials, Williams and Weller told me.

One of the goals of these mixed-income developments is to seamlessly intermingle the public housing, affordable and market-rate components. At both Legends and The Arches, the buildings are hybrids of all three types of housing, Weller and Williams said.

What’s your take: is it fair to require drug testing for tenants who are paying full price for their units? Conversely, is it right to allow market-rate tenants to snort all the coke they want while kicking public housing residents out for the same behavior?

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