James Reynolds was appointed the chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority board by Mayor Richard M. Daley last September. The position comes with a great deal of responsibility, including oversight of the CHA's massive Plan for Transformation, replacing unfit high-rise housing with 25,000 new units in a process that's been underway since 1999.
The job also comes with financial recompense, in the form of a $100,000 stipend -- a fact that caught Reynolds off guard.
Reynolds, who is also the chairman of Loop Capital, a massive downtown investment bank, said he never asked about a salary. “I took the position as chair of the board of the CHA actually not even knowing there was a stipend attached,” Reynolds said, according to WBEZ.
When he found out there was cash attached, "I never once thought of keeping it," he said.
On Tuesday, he announced what he would do with the money: Reynolds's stipend is being donated to Windows of Opportunity, a nonprofit that gives scholarships to youth who grow up in the city's public housing projects, FOX Chicago reports.
“I really believe the secret to us putting ourselves out of the housing authority business is to educate the youth,” Reynolds said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I was raised in Englewood. My upbringing was not any different from these kids. I know how important an extra $5,000 or even $2,000 would have been to me as I navigated that world of going to school.”
Reynolds also donated $25,000 of his own money to the charity, which has given out nearly $1 million in scholarships in the last 20 years.