1. We were awarded $1.26 million by HUD to support housing counseling programs in the Midwest

The funds will be distributed across our growing Intermediary network of 33 agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri to support programs that help families rent or buy safe, affordable homes and prevent foreclosures, like the family pictured with us below.

2. We passed a law to protect children from lead poisoning

This new law will update Illinois’s definition of elevated blood lead level for children, bringing it up to CDC standards. Bob Palmer, our policy director, co-authored an op-ed that explains how Illinois has the chance to become a national leader in preventing lead poisoning.

3. We hosted our largest Housing Matters! conference to date

Nearly 300 housing champions joined us in Bloomington for our annual conference. Participants shared their ideas and experiences and benefited from the “extraordinarily useful” workshops, “lively and empowering discussions,” and presenters who were “inspirational and gave strength to continue the daily struggle!”

4. We co-authored a new report, Prejudged: The Stigma of Eviction Records

The report, released in March, shows that 39% of cases in Cook County do not result in an eviction order or other judgement against the tenant, but these tenants still end up with a filing on the public record that makes it harder for them to find housing in the future.

5. We developed new trainings for housing counselors

We created an Online Study Group to help housing counselors prepare for the HUD Certification Exam. Each of the series’ five sessions teaches vital test information, quizzes participants on what they’ve learned, and answers the most pressing questions about the exam. 100% of study group participants who’ve taken the exam have passed!  We also hosted our first training on Counseling Clients with Student Loan Debt. Attendees spent three days learning how to best offer student loan counseling as a new service.

6. We launched the Community Revitalization Challenge

This new initiative connects community-based organizations with financial institutions to design and implement projects that increase access to affordable housing at a local level.Over 40 community organizations and financial institutions met at our annual conference in October to discuss their initial community development ideas.

7. We traveled throughout Illinois to listen, talk, and connect with member organizations and communities

Half a dozen Housing Action staff traveled throughout Central, Southern, and Northwestern Illinois to engage with more than 126 individuals from 75 organizations during our summer Outreach Caravan. We hosted fair housing and storytelling trainings, listened to the challenges and successes of our member organizations, shared Housing Action updates, and identified ways we can meet the needs of and further connect with groups throughout the state.

8. Our VISTAs kept the future looking bright

Our network of 27 full-year AmeriCorp VISTAs and our second cohort of 30 VISTA Summer Associates helped increase the capacity of our member organizations by working on sustainable programming. Their projects ranged from researching food insecurity in Chicago Heights to supporting a Coordinated Entry program for people experiencing homelessness. These passionate individuals inspire us and keep us looking ahead to a new year filled with new successes.