ABOUT 44 PERCENT of public housing residents in Chicago between 18 and 61 years old are working or attending school, reported the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), which instituted a work requirement for its leaseholders about a year ago.

About 28 percent of the residents are exempt, primarily due to a disability or status as a caretaker, and 19 percent have been granted temporary safe harbor due to a job loss or other circumstances, according to CHA.

In all, more than 91 percent of adults living in CHA are employed, are working toward employment, or are exempt.

Prior to this policy, 37 percent of eligible adults reported employment.

The work requirement was instituted in January 2009 as a condition of occupancy across its public housing stock.

The policy, part of CHA's Moving To Work agreement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, mandates that every adult member of a public housing household between 18 and 61 years old be employed or participate in activities that lead to employment, for at least 15 hours a week in 2009 and 20 hours in 2010.

Besides being enrolled in an accredited school, residents may also participate in job training or other qualified programs to meet the requirement.