January 24, 2023

Commissioner Marisa Novara – Department of Housing – City of Chicago

City Club event description:

Commissioner Marisa Novara

Marisa Novara was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Housing (DOH) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in May 2019. Believing that housing is a human right, Commissioner Novara directs the City’s efforts to create equitably distributed affordable housing across Chicago’s 77 community areas through policies, development, and legislation.

As Chair of the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Response Team, Novara led the effort to secure 1,200 hotel rooms and 900 additional shelter beds to meet the needs presented by the pandemic. Novara ensured the passage of 8 bills in three years, while leading the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments.

Before joining the City, Novara was vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). During her eight-year tenure at MPC, Novara designed and managed the Cost of Segregation project, a 2017 study that concluded how decades-old patterns of racial and economic segregation cost the Chicago region an estimated $4.4 billion in additional income each year. She also led the subsequent creation of the region’s first comprehensive guide to a more racially equitable future, among other reports, studies and articles.

Prior to MPC, Novara directed affordable rental and for-sale housing development for Lawndale Christian Development Corp. in the North Lawndale community, where she lived and worked for more than a decade.

City Club video

Novara has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, certificate in affordable housing finance, development and management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s in urban planning from the Istituto Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy.