Each year, Housing Action Illinois works on a broad range of issues aligned with our core mission of creating an Illinois where everyone has a good, affordable place to call home. Below are some of our priorities for the 2020 Illinois General Assembly session, as well as local and federal level work—measures that we believe will help families and communities across Illinois thrive.
All the issues we work on have an explicit economic and/or racial justice component. Whether our policy proposal is focused on ending homelessness, preventing evictions, creating affordable rental housing, promoting affordable home ownership, or something else, the people most impacted are low-income and people of color. You can read more about the systemic inequalities that drive our work on our issue pages.
Promote Smart State Investments in Affordable Housing & Ending Homelessness
- Ensure that the $200 million in capital budget funds we and others secured for affordable housing in 2019 goes to those most in need. We urge the State of Illinois to commit these funds to extremely low-income households in need of rental housing and allocate any homeownership investments to rehabbing vacant and abandoned properties, in alignment with efforts to close the racial wealth gap through targeted home purchase programs.
- Support effective spending of the $4 million funding increase for the Homelessness Prevention Program. We will also focus on successful implementation of two new program adjustments we and others secured in 2019: an increase in the total assistance a recipient can receive and allowing nonprofit providers to use program funds to cover a portion of the case management or administrative costs.
- Pass the Fair Tax referendum on the November 2020 election ballot. Illinois’ current tax system is fundamentally unfair, disproportionately burdening our middle- and lower-income families while creating income inequality in our state. Because our state constitution requires a flat income tax, Illinois has been unable to adequately support areas that strengthen communities, including education, healthcare, and housing. Illinoisans will vote whether to amend our constitution to allow for a fair, progressive income tax. We will continue to work with the Responsible Budget Coalition and the Vote Yes For Fair Tax Ballot Initiative Committee toward this end.
Pass State Legislation to Benefit Homeowners and Renters
- Establish a new property tax incentive for affordable rental homes that will encourage investment in residential rental properties in higher- and lower-cost markets. Eligible buildings would have seven or more units that are new construction or would undertake qualifying rehabilitation and keep a portion of the rental units affordable.
- Expand opportunities to seal tenant eviction records to help people secure a home. Having an eviction filing on your record is a serious obstacle to finding housing, even if the court didn’t decide the case against you. Updating Illinois’ current strict standards to allow for more types of eviction records to be sealed will help people find housing. Learn more.
- Expand eligibility and use of unspent funds for Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program. Our goal is to help seniors at risk of losing their home due to unpaid property taxes by temporarily expanding eligibility for seniors to get a loan from the State of Illinois to pay their property taxes using the current fund balance for the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program.
- Improve notice and cover costs of mailing and publication for properties subject to tax sale. This bill would help people whose properties are nearing the time when they will be sold for past-due property taxes by improving the notice requirements and ensuring that County Treasurers have adequate financial resources to send the notices.
Implement Cook County Ordinance to Expand Access to Stable Housing for People with Criminal Records
- We co-chair the Just Housing Initiative, a coalition of individuals with arrest and conviction records, service providers, legal aid organizations, community advocates, and others. In 2019, the campaign successfully advocated for passage of a Cook County ordinance that will ensure housing providers do not discriminate against applicants with records. The ordinance went into effect on December 31, 2019. In 2020, we plan to educate the public and stakeholders about the new ordinance and their rights, monitor compliance, and organize against any attempts to undermine the measure.
Invest in Affordable Housing & Ending Homelessness at Federal Level
- Collaborate with the National Low Income Housing Coalition and others around the county to maximize funding for key federal housing programs, including Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing, Project-Based Section 8 Contracts, Homeless Assistance Grants, and Housing Counseling.
- Advocate against Trump administration proposals that conflict with our mission. Over the past year, we have opposed proposed rules including the public charge rule, the HUD mixed-status household rule, and the disparate impact rule. In 2020, we will continue to defend federal law on issues such as affirmatively furthering fair housing and requiring banks to invest in low- and moderate-communities, particularly those most impacted by racial discrimination.
- Engage organizations from other sectors in our federal advocacy work as a state partner for Opportunity Starts at Home—a long-term, multi-sector campaign to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s low-income people.