Many voices are stronger than one. By mobilizing our members and allies to advocate for our collective public policy agenda, Housing Action Illinois amplifies the influence of community-based organizations working to end homelessness, create affordable rental housing, and promote sustainable homeownership. On our own and through coalition work with partners, we have been able to secure a multitude of policy victories in Springfield and Washington D.C. that benefit renters and homeowners.
Public Education and Organizing
We build awareness by sharing information and personal stories with policymakers, elected officials, nonprofit service providers, and the media. In addition to keeping our members informed about the latest developments in housing policy, we organize issue-specific working groups, meetings with legislators, a summer outreach caravan, and an annual Housing Matters! conference where advocates and practitioners share their knowledge and experience.
Increasing Rental Housing Affordability
Extremely low-income renters—including minimum wage workers, seniors and people with disabilities—have the hardest time finding affordable housing, often paying more than half their income just to keep a roof over their head. This can mean making impossible choices between paying rent and buying medicine or groceries. The cost of rental housing varies across the state, so depending on where someone lives, so even a person who considers themselves middle class can have a difficult time finding an affordable apartment. The stakes are high for someone who can’t afford rent; in the worst case scenario, they may become homeless. Housing Action Illinois advocates for resources and policies to create and preserve affordable rental housing, as well as to increase the ability of people to afford the rent, especially people with the lowest incomes.
Promoting Sustainable Homeownership
Historically, homeownership has been considered a powerful way to build wealth, and it is true that for many people, owning a home offers stability and a valuable asset. However, one critical lesson of the foreclosure crisis was that buying a home only makes sense after someone carefully evaluates their ability to purchase and upkeep a home, life goals, and investment horizon. An educated buyer is the key to success. Housing Action Illinois advocates for housing counseling programs to educate people so they can make an informed decision about whether to buy a home. We also advocate for for adequate resources and legal protections for homeowners when problems arise and for policies that address historic, systemic inequalities in homeownership rates based on factors such as race and ethnicity.
People become homeless for many reasons, but everyone who is homeless has one thing in common—they don’t have a good, affordable place to live. Many people experience homelessness at least once during their life; for most people, it’s a short-term problem that they are eventually able to resolve. But for others with more serious problems, such as severe mental illness or substance addictions, homelessness is a longer-term, even chronic, way of life. To end homelessness in our society, we only need to ensure that everyone has access to an affordable place to live. People grappling with serious issues are in a better position to deal with them when they are housed and are more likely to be successful in staying in a home with supportive services attached. Housing Action Illinois advocates for programs and resources to prevent homelessness, make episodes of homelessness as brief as possible, and to ensure access to supportive housing for those who can benefit from it.
Where you live affects what opportunities you have, whether you’re a child or an adult. Where you live affects not just your day-to-day quality of life but also your access to education and employment, as well as your health and relationships. What people want and need from a home may change over time. We believe that people’s life choices shouldn’t be limited by a lack of housing options. Unfortunately, in today’s world, people’s choices are limited because of market forces and individual decisions that lead to segregation, discrimination and inaccessibility. Housing Action Illinois works to promote communities that provide a range of housing options to meet diverse needs and to eliminate discrimination against people of color, people with disabilities, people who are poor, and other populations. We want people to have a choice in where they live.
Latest Policy and Organizing News
Legislative Victories and Budget Progress Point the Way Forward The General Assembly completed this year’s session on May 31. Housing Action is glad to say that our legislative successes included three bills we advocated for being sent to Governor Rauner for his...
Back to main blog page » Leah Demarest and Rachel Schwartz are AmeriCorps VISTAs at John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic and Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, respectively. April 2018 marks 50 years since the passage of the federal...
Congress Should Consider the Gap in Affordable Rental Homes for the Poorest Households as They Finalize This Year’s Federal Budget
The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Housing Action Illinois, finds a severe shortage of affordable rental homes for the extremely low-income (ELI) renter households...