Federal Level Advocacy

Along with advocates from across the country who work to create affordable housing and end homelessness, we are dismayed by President Trump’s budget “blueprint” for next year. Why?

  • The proposal cuts the HUD budget by $6.2 billion (13%).
  • The proposal completely eliminates critical programs such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME. The elimination of CDBG and HOME would cause Illinois to lose more than $190 million next year—funds that are needed to create housing, jobs and infrastructure investment. The limited information provided in President Trump’s HUD budget proposal indicates that Illinois would lose at least 6,312 jobs from proposed cuts to HUD programs.
  • Many other important programs, including as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Corporation for National and Community Service (including AmeriCorps), and the Legal Services Corporation, are also slated for elimination.

We continue to work with the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and others around the country to make sure that the budgets proposed by the House and Senate do not cut funding for housing and services that make it possible for low-income people to keep a roof over their head. In the short term, we are focused on making sure the final budget for the current fiscal year is adequately funded when the federal government’s continuing resolution expires on April 28.

The proposed budget “blueprint,” if adopted, would severely affect low-income people’s ability to access housing. We are therefore putting extra effort into keeping our members and allies informed about the impact of proposed cuts to the federal budget. We are also working to making clear to members of the Illinois Congressional delegation that budget cuts will increase homelessness, hurt vulnerable families, and be bad for our overall economy.

Earlier this month, Housing Action and the NLIHC co-released The GAP: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a report that finds a shortage of 324,178 affordable and available rental homes for extremely low income (ELI) renter households in Illinois. We also helped NLIHC collect success stories for A Place to Call Home, a report released in early March that demonstrates how federal investments in affordable housing and community development have a positive impact on low income households and the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, we are encouraging people to call their Representatives and urge them to oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act. Replacing the ACA with the American Health Care Act will cause millions of Americans to lose or pay more for their health care and will dramatically reduce Medicaid resources that are essential to many people ending their homelessness.

State Level Advocacy

As the prospects for a “grand bargain” regarding the state budget seem to rise and fall on a daily basis, we keep our message to elected officials focused on the Responsible Budget Coalition’s principles: adequate revenue to support state priorities and make smart investments, no more cuts to vital programs and services, and fairness in raising revenue.

During the current General Assembly session (which runs from January through May), we are also advocating for three state legislative proposals that will further our mission:

  • A bill to establish consumer protections for people considering rent-to-own (aka contract for deed) home purchases. While these agreements can make sense for some people, contracts for deed are often predatory loan products, specifically targeting people in racially segregated and economically disinvested neighborhoods. A recent Chicago Reader article explores these predatory practices and shares the stories of those who have encountered them. The proposed legislation would require that the terms of the proposed contract be clear, prohibit certain unfair contact terms, and provide more protections and remedies for people who get into trouble with contract for deed agreements.
  • A change in state law to require that everyone has the same opportunity to apply for housing situations, regardless of their legal source of income, including federal Housing Choice Vouchers. This fair housing standard exists in much of the state, including Chicago, suburban Cook County, Urbana and, most recently, Naperville. Source of income protections expand housing opportunities for people, particularly voucher holders, by making it possible to at least apply for a home—an opportunity that might be denied to them based on unfair prejudices against their particular source of income. Endorse our campaign by clicking here.
  • A bill with versions in the Senate and House to extend existing state fees that provide crucial financial resources for local governments to address vacant and abandoned properties, and that also support housing counseling for homeowners facing foreclosure and people wanting to buy a home. Given that federal resources for these efforts are at risk of significant cuts right now, it is especially important to preserve state resources for them.

For the issues we are working on at the federal and state level, we continue to rely on the strategies that have worked best in the past, including organizing our members and allies to meet with their elected officials, participating in public education events, having a presence at the State Capitol and working to generate media coverage on the issues we care about.