Illinois has only 36 available, affordable rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income households; the 2020 census will determine funding for federal programs that alleviate shortage

CONTACT: Kristin Ginger, Manager of Communications & Development, Housing Action Illinois, or 312-854-3333

Map of state affordable housing shortagesCHICAGO – A new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Housing Action Illinois finds a national shortage of nearly seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income (ELI) renter households. The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to financially-vulnerable families and individuals. Among the report’s key findings are:

  • There are just 36 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households in Illinois.
  • Extremely low-income renter households are those with incomes at or below the poverty line, or 30% of their area median income. In Illinois, we have 450,590 ELI renter households.
  • 71% of the poorest renter households in our state are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities.

“Far too many families in Illinois are spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing, living on the brink,” says Sharon Legenza, Executive Director of Housing Action Illinois. “They’re forced to choose between necessities like medicine and groceries or paying the rent. They’re just one financial setback away from eviction and homelessness.”

Vital federal programs support these families and address the overall shortage of affordable units by investing in the creation of more affordable housing. The George Washington Institute of Public Policy calculates that in Fiscal Year 2016, Illinois received more than $40 million for the HOME Program and nearly $346 million for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, both federal programs that support the development of affordable housing. Illinois also received $926 million for the Housing Choice Voucher program, proven to reduce housing instability and homelessness while improving child and adult well-being. With these funds, our state is able to assist tens of thousands of families—the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that vouchers supported 94,500 Illinoisan households in 2018—and many more qualify for the program than it is able to support.

How much funding Illinois receives for these vital housing programs all comes back to one driving factor: census data. This week, the U.S. Census Bureau is mailing out census forms to every household in the country, and the online census form goes live. Required by our constitution and conducted every 10 years, the census is the one chance Illinois gets each decade to make sure our citizens are fully counted and ensure accurate representation in Congress and funding for federal programs that support our communities.

“We need to count every single person in Illinois—and that includes renters, students, babies, non-citizens, people experiencing homelessness, and other populations that are hard to count,” explains Bob Palmer, Housing Action Illinois’s Policy Director. “During the last census, one in every four Illinoisans went uncounted. We can’t afford to let that happen again. For each person who goes uncounted, we leave as much as $1,800 on the table. That’s money we need to build housing, assist low-income renter households, address homelessness, fix roads, put towards health care, and do so much more.”

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About Housing Action Illinois

Housing Action Illinois is a statewide coalition that has been leading the movement to protect and expand the availability of quality, affordable housing in Illinois for more than 30 years. Our 160+ member organizations include housing counseling agencies, homeless service providers, developers of affordable housing and policymakers. We bring everyone together to work toward our vision of an Illinois where everyone has a stable, good home.