• Marisa Novara
  • Commissioner
Commissioner Marisa Novara

Marisa Novara was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Housing (DOH) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in May 2019 and was confirmed by Chicago City Council in June 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. 

Since 2019, Novara has led the department in the creation of policies to ensure that all 77 community areas contribute to the city’s affordable housing needs, while also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Under her leadership, DOH has managed three rounds of COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grants providing over $170 million of financial and legal support directly to impacted residents and passed the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance.  

Novara led the passage of nine laws in three years, including the Fair Notice Ordinance that provides more stability and predictability for Chicago renters by extending the notice period required for lease non-renewals and notice of increased rent from 30 days to up to 120 days; the Woodlawn Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance, an unprecedented effort to mitigate displacement and proactively build community wealth ahead of a major public amenity; the Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance that legalizes below-market rental units in attics, basements, and coach houses for the first time in over 60 years; anti-displacement measures for the Pilsen neighborhood and the area surrounding the 606/Bloomingdale Trail that limit the ability to demolish two to eight unit buildings and institute a demolition permit surcharge; a major revision of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) that encourages affordable units serving lower incomes, larger family sizes and expands the geography to include parts of the city experiencing displacement of longtime residents and areas that have traditionally had very little affordable housing; and the Connected Communities Ordinance which made more than a dozen changes to the zoning code to ensure more equitable transit-oriented developments across the city.   

Novara also led the charge for the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) of rental housing developments which are supported by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Racial Equity Impact Assessments (REIA) are public examinations of how racial & ethnic groups are affected by proposed or existing programs, policies, or decisions. DOH’s REIA resulted in recommendations to increase opportunities for developers and contractors of color to participate, ensuring tenant applicants are not unfairly screened out by conviction records or credit scores and addressing residents’ mental health needs. These changes are reflected in the City’s December 2021 announcement of a historic $1 billion investment in affordable housing across 24 developments in 20 community areas. 

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. 

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.  

She lives in the Little Italy neighborhood with her family.

 Natashia HamiltonNatasha Hamilton
Managing Deputy Commissioner


Natasha Hamilton (she/her/ella) is imagining a future that centers collective care and liberatory transformation. Natasha is an educator, liberatory coach, facilitator, and consultant who works with people to deepen systems consciousness and to build organizational capacity for equity leadership. As a healing justice professional and a specialist in culturally responsive pedagogy and praxis, Natasha works to disrupt patterns that perpetuate dehumanization and is deeply committed to driving impact through collective care and mindful accountability. She has partnered with nonprofit organizations, postsecondary institutions, school communities, administrators, educators, students, and families locally and nationally, to create equity-centered best practices to guide the implementation of school- and organization-wide initiatives, high quality training, coaching, and intervention programs.

As a Managing Deputy Commissioner within the Department of Housing (DOH), Natasha brings nearly 20 years of educational leadership and program management experience to the Bureau of Community Engagement, Racial Equity, and Strategic Initiatives (CERESI), where she is collaborating across programs, with sister agencies, community partners, and community members to rebuild relationships and plant the seeds for equity, accountability, and repair.



James Horan
Managing Deputy Commissioner





Jim Horan is Deputy Commissioner overseeing the Construction and Compliance Bureau within the Department of Housing (DOH). Since 2018, Horan has provided leadership, vision, and oversight of the management team and staff to ensure efficient and accountable operations within the five units that make up DOH's Construction and Compliance Bureau, including long term monitoring of the over 400 properties within the City’s affordable housing portfolio; oversight and approval of the construction phase, contractor activity and payments for multi-family buildings; monitoring and reporting on minority

and woman contractor participation; enforcement of the Davis Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements; and all aspects of construction management for work performed under for the Home Repair Program (HRP), formerly the Roof and Porch Program, and senior small repair program.

Horan designed the HRP to replace the Roof and Porch Repair Program and expand services to include remediation of environmental health hazards, climate resiliency, and accessible repairs for households
with disabled occupants. The expanded offerings will require new service providers that will be key in managing a qualified pool of local small and minority construction firms that will make needed repairs to the homes of low- and moderate-income qualified homeowners. Horan also leads the revision of the Architectural Standards manual for multi-family new construction and rehabilitation projects.

With the City of Chicago since 2001, Horan held positions in various divisions within the Department of Planning and Development prior to joining the housing team. Over the years he has worked on community economic development efforts to revitalize industrial and commercial corridors on the south and west sides of the City, including planned developments, economic development, affordable housing, and financial incentives for providers of affordable housing.

Horan holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a master's in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.



Daniel HertzDaniel Hertz
Director of Policy, Research, and Legislative Affairs 




Daniel Kay Hertz serves as Director of Policy, Research and Legislative Affairs for DOH. He has been a key driver of many of the department’s most impactful policies and programs including the anti-deconversion ordinances for Pilsen and The 606 designed to reduce displacement of low- to moderate-income residents while also maintaining the existing character and housing stock, the Inclusionary
Housing Task Force process leading to the introduction of major revisions to the city's Affordable Requirements Ordinance, and the execution of two rounds of COVID-19 rental assistance grants, which
provided nearly 10,000 households financially impacted by COVID-related shutdowns with much-needed funds. Hertz will lead a third round of assistance beginning Spring 2021.

Prior to joining DOH in 2019, Hertz, a Chicago native, served as Research Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, where he worked on state and local fiscal policy issues, and Senior Fellow at City Observatory, an urban policy think tank.

Hertz is the author of The Battle of Lincoln Park: Urban Renewal and Gentrification in Chicago, about gentrification in Lincoln Park during the 1960s. In his free time, he likes to read novels and books about Chicago history and bike to the bird sanctuary at Montrose Harbor.





Irma MoralesIrma L. Morales
Deputy Commissioner



Irma L. Morales is Deputy Commissioner for DOH’s Bureau of Homeownership Programs. Her experience includes over 25 years working with single family housing and residential lending and has served with the department since 2006.

Morales directly oversees Housing Delegate Agency Contracts, home repair grants for owner-occupants, Purchase Price Assistance, compliance of resale and subordinations of existing affordable homes, and Single-Family Development - City Lots for Working Families.

Prior to joining DOH, Morales served as the Director of New Lending Partnerships and Alliances for Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS). During her tenure at NHS, she maintained public and private partnerships for the Home Ownership Program Initiative, a national laboratory in which non-profits, lenders, and government entities collaborated in innovative solutions for the then-ensuing foreclosure crisis.






Tamra CollinsTamra Collins
Deputy Commissioner



Tamra Collins serves as Deputy Commissioner for the Housing Development Bureau for DOH. The Bureau includes the Housing Finance Division (Multifamily Finance and Asset Management) and the Neighborhood Development and Housing Preservation Division, including the Troubled Buildings Initiative, Micro-Market Recovery Program, Community Receiver, Chicago Neighborhood Rebuild pilot program, and Tax Increment Financing Purchase Rehab.

Prior to her current role, Collins’ nearly two decades of experience includes as Project Coordinator and Financial Planning Analyst (FPA) with both DOH and the Department of Planning and Development, where together with local elected officials, developers, nonprofits, and community organizations she worked to bring safe, decent and affordable housing and economic development to the residents of Chicago. Collins has expertise in the financial analysis and underwriting of multi-family financing projects utilizing private and public resources including land, Tax-Increment Financing, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Tax-Exempt Bonds, Community Development Block Grants, and HOME Investments Partnership Programs. In addition to her duties as an FPA, Collins served as team lead in technical assistance and departmental liaison to All Chicago’s Continuum of Care, which works to prevent and end homelessness throughout all 77 communities.

Collins is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Baton Rouge, LA. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing. 



Rima Alsammarae

Rima Alsammarae
Director of Public Affairs


Rima Alsammarae strives to increase and enhance the engagement and communication between the Department of Housing and the public, spreading awareness of the department’s programs, grants, and projects. Creating clear and open pathways to DOH’s work is of paramount importance to her, as she values transparency and equitable accessibility to information.

Prior to joining DOH, Rima worked as a journalist and editor in Dubai and Beirut, where she covered the fields of architecture and development with a particular lens on the Near East and North Africa. Her work has shaped both her understanding of the NENA region’s varied historical development, as well as her passion for global urbanization. To Rima, cities are more than just dense urban centers – they’re the backdrop of the day-to-day for most of the world’s population. Cities are living organisms that need constant care.

Rima received an editorial award for an article she wrote and produced in 2018 on the great Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji, and obtained her Master’s in Urban Resilience from UIC Barcelona in 2022. In 2020, she co-founded a bilingual website named Round City, which publishes academic and journalistic pieces on architecture and development in both English and Arabic.


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