Explore CHA elevator data

Residents of Chicago Housing Authority apartment buildings, mostly seniors, have faced elevator problems for years. Use this database to check the status of their elevators, including failed inspections and violations issued by city inspectors. Hover over the squares to get additional information, such as dates and notes from city inspectors.

Notes: The information in this database was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from several agencies, including the city’s buildings department and Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Data on elevator violations were collected from the city's online data portal.

Maintenance records were obtained from the Chicago Housing Authority, including 5,000 pages of handwritten notes from maintenance workers. Many of the pages were not legible, although reporters made every effort to find monthly preventive maintenance records. In some cases, the data from the city's buildings department were different from CHA's records, in which case we used data reported to the city. To standardize the data, we used the addresses provided by the CHA.

An inspection reported as a "Work In Progress," or WIP, means repairs were needed before an elevator could pass an inspection. The repairs under WIP were considered “minor” because a city permit was not required to complete the work. However, some of the CHA’s elevators were reported as WIP for failures that could have prompted inspectors to shut down elevators, such as failing communications systems and malfunctioning door locks.

City records showed some elevator inspections were conducted on the same date but resulted in two different outcomes. The city said it considers those instances to be clerical errors. The city officials also said that those errors didn’t necessarily mean the elevators were unsafe.

N/A means the data were not available or not requested. No CHA elevators were inspected in 2016, which is represented by a 0/0.

Date ranges:

  • 911 calls: Jan. 2014 through Dec. 2017
  • Inspections: Jan. 2015 through April 2018
  • Elevator violations: Jan. 2014 through May 2018
  • Maintenance records were analyzed from Jan. 2015 to May 2018, though CHA records were missing or incomplete.