2018 Conference Program

Join us for a dynamic two-day conference with hundreds of individuals and organizations that care about expanding and protecting affordable housing and ending homelessness in Illinois. Leading the Way will feature plenary speakers, interactive breakout sessions, and workshops in four tracks. View workshop topics by expanding the sections below; session topics and speakers subject to change.

Return to main conference page »

Plenary Sessions

Check back soon for updated speakers and sessions.

  • Molly Parker, a reporter at The Southern Illinoisan, will join us for a plenary session. Parker has been covering the housing and economic crisis in Cairo for the past two years and is one of seven reporters recently selected to join ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. Prior to working for The Southern Illinoisan, she wrote for Wilmington StarNews, The Clarion-Ledger, and the Peoria Journal-Star.
  • Health and Housing: We will be facilitating a panel discussion on local initiatives to integrate health and housing. Spotlights will include pilot programs that have been launched in Bloomington, DuPage County, and Chicago.
Public Policy Advocacy

Preventing Lead Poisoning at Home: (Workshop I)
Anne Evens, Elevate Energy; Ken McCann, Illinois Department of Public Health; Amy Zimmerman, Legal Council for Health Justice
No amount of lead poisoning is safe, especially for children. It is linked to lowered IQ, developmental delay, and many other physical and behavioral health problems. Although significant progress has been made in Illinois, there is still much work to be done to reduce the number of children with lead poisoning in our state. Attend this session to find out about existing and emerging efforts to eliminate lead hazards in homes and expand Early Intervention services to children (0 – 3) who have been exposed. We’ll also discuss innovations in lead poisoning prevention that the Illinois Department of Public Health is advancing, including lowering the definition of lead poisoning to be consistent with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reference value for elevated blood lead level.

Addressing the Cost of Segregation through Racial Equity (Workshop II)
Lynnette McRae, Metropolitan Planning Council
Hear about two recent reports which reveal the direct and indirect costs of housing segregation in the Chicago region, including billions of dollars in lost income, lost lives, and lost potential. We will discuss how promoting integration would reduce income inequality, lessen crime, and promote education opportunities. We will also share the report’s recommendations to address the challenges of segregation at the local, regional and state level, including housing solutions and more broad interventions.

Let’s Get Local: Strategies for Affordable Housing Advocacy (Workshop III)
Danielle Chynoweth, Cunningham Township; Christine Kahl, South Side Office of Concern; Sue Loellbach, Connections for the Homeless and Joining Forces for Affordable Housing
Learn from the experiences and strategies of advocates and an elected official currently working to mobilize people at the local level to address housing needs in their communities. We will discuss issues such as understanding and making the case for local needs, building relationships with elected officials, supporting specific housing developments, developing issue campaigns, building a coalition, and establishing partnerships. Get suggestions for expanding your advocacy activities that take into account local circumstances and the reality that resources vary across communities.

Stopping Prejudgement Based on a Eviction Filing (Workshop IV)
Bob Palmer, Housing Action Illinois; Mark Swartz, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing; Jerome Sader, Housing Action Illinois
Having an eviction filing on the public record can be a serious obstacle to finding housing in the future. Too often, people do not understand that an eviction filing does not mean someone was actually evicted. At this workshop, we will discuss our campaign to expand access to having eviction records sealed. We will discuss the report that Housing Action Illinois co-authored with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing on this topic in April, Prejudged: The Stigma of Eviction Records, and share data on evictions from throughout the state that is available from Matthew Desmond’s Eviction Lab. Join us to find out how you can support the campaign and discuss additional strategies for addressing evictions in your community.

Ending Homelessness

Making Case Management Work: Empowering People for Change (Workshop I)
Pam Clark Redeinbach, Center for Nonprofit Excellence; Melanie Overton, Shelter Care Ministries
Learn ways to change how you deliver case management by through this introduction to Dr. Beverly Ford’s person-centered, outcome-based approach to supporting clients on their journey to self-sufficiency. This approach focuses on strengths and moves away from “doing for” participants what they can and should do for themselves. It includes adopting strategies such as using open, thinking questions to encourage participants to evaluate, make decisions, take action, and solve problems. We will prepare you with the concepts, tools and skills needed for this approach by sharing information and resources, discussing the strategies, and starting to put these ideas into practice.

Engaging Your Entire Agency to Effect Measurable Change for the Homeless (Workshop II)
Suzanne Ploger, JOURNEYS | The Road Home; Jon Rapp, JOURNEYS | The Road Home; Todd Stull, JOURNEYS | The Road Home
While federal policies are critical in establishing best practices for addressing homelessness, they can leave agencies guessing at how to implement the framework for positive change in-house. The most effective organizations use an interdepartmental, agency-wide approach to provide services and secure the resources necessary to realize program priorities. Join us for a panel discussion on how to develop an action plan that utilizes the talents of an organization’s entire staff and volunteer force for direct client treatment, advocacy, fundraising, and more.

ACEs and Homelessness: Tools to Build a Trauma-Informed Housing Program (Workshop III)
Erica Smith, Helping Hands of Springfield
Many people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness have a significant history of trauma. Trauma is strongly correlated with addiction, incarceration, chronic health conditions, unemployment, and mental health issues—all obstacles for maintaining stable housing. During this session, learn about tools to implement strategies and practices to provide trauma-aware services, such as understanding the causes and effects of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) at the individual and community level, preventing secondary trauma, and avoiding burn-out in professionals who work with individuals and communities that have a history of trauma.

Ending Chronic Homelessness through Relationships (Workshop IV)
Mary Garrison, Millikin University; Fred Spannaus, Spannaus Consulting
Creating relationships that foster hope and resilience can help end unsheltered and chronic homelessness. Join us to learn ways to approach and build these relationships. We will discuss topics such as the stages of change model, individualized assessment and outreach strategies, provider collaboration, and community engagement. You will have the chance to put these concepts into practice by collaborating with peers to evaluate scenarios utilizing the strategies we cover during the session.

Housing Counseling

Let’s Get Certified: Housing Affordability and Fair Housing (Workshops I & II)
Wanda Collins, Housing Action Illinois
Starting in August 2020, all housing counseling required by or provided in connection with HUD programs may only be provided by HUD certified housing counselors who have passed an exam. During these study group sessions, we’ll help you gear up for two of the exam’s six focus areas. In a supportive peer-learning environment, we’ll cover the key points of each module and go through practice questions to get familiar with the exam style and structure. These sessions may be familiar to you from the six-week online study group we hosted in the spring—housing counselors expressed particular interest in studying up on the Housing Affordability and Fair Housing modules, which is why we’re reviewing those subjects again in person. Depending on interest, we may also run another virtual study group for counselors preparing to take the exam.

  • Housing Affordability (Workshop I) – Join us to discuss the pros and cons of renting vs. buying, calculating income and qualifying ratios, and understanding the implications of credit.
  • Fair Housing (Workshop II) – During this session, you’ll hear an overview of the Fair Housing timeline and changes to legislation, in addition to identifying housing violations.

Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications: A Guide for Housing Professionals (Workshop III)
Lon Meltesen, IDHR Fair Housing Division Manager
Housing professionals committed to serving their clients with confidence and integrity must understand and strictly comply with federal, state and local fair housing laws. During this session, we will give a helpful overview of these laws, as well as general guidance on various aspects of reasonable accommodation and modifications as they relate to tenants with disabilities. We will discuss topics such as how the term “disability” is defined by law, the difference between reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications, costs associated with meeting requests, unique issues that arise for certain housing providers, and legal remedies. Participants will gain practical knowledge through examples and hands-on activities developed from real-life cases.

Illinois Housing Counseling Coalition Roundtable (Workshop IV)
Jennifer Pallas, Housing Action Illinois
Are you a member of the Illinois Housing Counseling Coalition (IHCC)? Would you like to join? During this session, we will discuss priorities for the 2019 IHCC agenda, and we would love to have your input. As a housing counselor, what are the issues you are seeing with your clients? What are the trends in the industry that you think counselors should be focused on? Bring us your ideas and concerns, and find out how you can join IHCC in 2019.

Affordable Housing Development

Designing for Accessibility: Scattered Site Developments (Workshop I)
Elizabeth Godbold, Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects, P.C.; Dena Bell, IFF
Hear from a developer and an architect about the design, regulatory review, and construction processes for two scattered site developments for people with disabilities. Home First, which was completed in 2015, involved purchasing 70 foreclosed condominium units in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The units were renovated to include accessible/adaptable features for residents with mobility impairments, common areas were made more accessible, and leasing was targeted specifically to Colbert consent decree members relocating from nursing homes to independent living. Access Peoria, which was completed in 2016, involved constructing eight new duplexes on scattered sites in the East Bluff neighborhood of Peoria. Buildings were designed to a high level of accessibility within very tight site constraints. Learn about site selection strategies, regulatory requirements, funding, design/construction processes, challenges, lessons learned and positive outcomes for residents.

Protecting Developments Through Coalition Building & Creative Financing (Workshop II)
Jessica Nepomiachi, Michaels Development Company
Join us to talk about organizing coalitions to protect vulnerable housing projects and about creative finance strategies that can expand development possibilities. We’ll take inspiration from the lessons learned by the Michaels Development Company, which recently worked on two groundbreaking SRO preservation projects. Learn about The Carling, whose affordability was preserved through leveraging a variety of subsidies (including CHA vouchers, IHDA Section 811, Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund) and whose building was donated by the City of Chicago to a nonprofit partner to generate the Illinois Donation Tax Credit equity. Then learn about The Marshall, currently under construction in the high-income Old Town neighborhood, which is entirely Project Based Section 8. We’ll talk about how advocacy and collaboration played an important role in these initiatives and explore how the strategies used for them could translate for communities around Illinois.

Changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (Workshop III)

Check back soon for more information

Strategies for Developing Housing for Affordable Independent Living for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Workshop IV)

Check back soon for more information

Breakout Sessions

This year, in addition to our regular workshop tracks, we will have targeted breakout sessions.

  • Meet and Greet for New Faces
  • The A to Z of Hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Success Spotlights: Grantees of the Foreclosure Prevention Program – Graduated
  • Community Revitalization Challenge Roundtables


On Wednesday, we will host our Intermediary Summit from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. as well a funders reception from 6 – 8 p.m.

Thursday, October 25

  • 8:30 a.m. – Registration & Breakfast
  • 10:00 a.m. – Opening Plenary
  • 11:30 a.m. – Annual Membership Meeting & Luncheon
  • 12:45 p.m. – Workshop I
  • 2:30 p.m. – Workshop II
  • 4:00 p.m. – Afternoon Keynote
  • 5:00 p.m. – Reception

Friday, October 26

  • 8:00 a.m. – Registration & Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. – Meet and Greet
  • 9:00 a.m. – Workshop III
  • 10:30 a.m. – Workshop IV
  • 12:15 p.m. – Closing Plenary

2018 Conference Sponsors

We invite you to join us in Leading the Way by sponsoring our 2018 Housing Matters! Conference. Please view our 2018 Sponsorship Packet for more details and contact Kristin Ginger with questions.