Chris Auguste joined Housing Action as an Advocacy Organizer in January 2020 and will work closely with Policy Director Bob Palmer to implement Housing Action’s policy agenda. He will also work on outreach and engagement with member organizations.
Chris Auguste’s interest in policy advocacy began during college, a result of his experience volunteering with a wide variety of organizations: the Urban League, Boys and Girls Club, the NAACP Political Action Committee, Central Black Student Union, and Generations of Hope, to name a few. Through Generations of Hope, Chris remembers, he worked with youth who had been through the adoption system and faced hardships. Chris wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
Since then, Chris has accumulated a lengthy history of community organizing throughout Illinois; he has worked on grassroots, issue-based, union, educational, and political campaigns. In addition, he has experience in social service programming and policy coordination. “I am familiar with the rigors of the legislative session in our state capitol,” he says, reflecting on his experiences with drafting legislation for the General Assembly and working for change at the state level. He is also a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society.
He is well aware of the struggles many people face to pay their rent. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2019 Out of Reach report, a person making minimum wage would have to work eighty-five hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom rental home at Fair Market Rent. “As a former organizer in the state, I have witnessed and learned about some of the struggles in the community regarding housing and during the mortgage crisis,” he says.
When Chris learned about the Advocacy Organizer role at Housing Action Illinois, he knew it was a good fit. He was interested in Housing Action’s work to expand affordable housing, and he was already acquainted with the organization: “I heard about Housing Action after the Just Housing Amendment was passed last legislative session,” he explains.
He was drawn to the role because of the opportunity to work with legislators to address the needs of their communities. “We need to make sure our basic needs and human rights are covered and protected.”
Chris has settled into his new job quickly—in the course of meeting Housing Action’s partners and allies during his first weeks on the job, he was surprised and excited to find himself getting reacquainted with people he had worked with in the past. Now, he’s eager to get to work on the issues. “Unlawful evictions are definitely number one on my list,” he said. He’ll get to dig into eviction right away: Housing Action’s current state-level advocacy work includes an effort to pass a measure that would expand access to sealing eviction records in Illinois, and at the federal level, Housing Action is urging legislators to pass the Eviction Crisis Act in partnership with the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.
Chris knows what he wants to accomplish through his advocacy role. “I not only want to learn and understand people better, but I want to be a voice for the voiceless—an advocate for change and better living,” he said. He looks forward to working with Housing Action toward an Illinois where everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home.