Growing Hope in 2021

Although 2021 was another challenging year, we are proud of the achievements of our communities, members, and allies in our ongoing work to end homelessness and expand affordable housing. We invite you to celebrate these accomplishments and the hope they create for our communities in 2022 and beyond. 

We successfully advocated for the Cook County Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance, protecting more than 245,000 suburban renters.

Housing Action Illinois and our partners advocated and built support for this ordinance, which passed unanimously in January 2021 and took effect on June 1, 2021. It creates more stability for both renters and landlords by clarifying their roles and responsibilities to make the rental process easier and fairer to navigate.

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Screengrab of commissioners during virtual Cook County Board meeting on January 28, 2021

Cook County commissioners unanimously voted to pass the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance on Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Illinois Community Reinvestment Act passed, making Illinois the second state with oversight to ensure equitable investment.

Housing Action, Woodstock Institute, and our allies successfully advocated for the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act, which will help ensure that state-regulated financial institutions better meet the needs of consumers and small businesses in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. This is a historic victory for low-income and communities of color in Illinois.

We secured landmark wins for affordable housing during the Illinois General Assembly session.

The Affordable Housing Omnibus (HB 2621) bill creates new resources to develop affordable rental housing, establishes property tax policies to help keep rents affordable, and strengthens requirements for communities with very small stocks of affordable housing to develop plans to remedy the shortage. We worked closely on the bill with Senators Mattie Hunter, Sara Feigenholtz, and Ann Gillespie, and Representatives Will Guzzardi and Curtis Tarver.

The hard-won COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act (HB 2877) creates strong protections for Illinoisans struggling to pay their rent or mortgages due to the pandemic, and helps ensure that people with the lowest incomes and most severe housing needs can access federal rental assistance. It also includes provisions to seal all eviction records between March 2020 and March 2022 upon filing. Representative Delia Ramirez and Senator Omar Aquino were our chief sponsors.

Read about additional wins for affordable housing and ending homelessness »

We doubled down on our federal level advocacy and pandemic response efforts.

Federal funding has been crucial to keeping people housed during the pandemic and helping to promote an equitable recovery. We advocated with members of Illinois’ congressional delegation throughout the year regarding the importance of these resources.

State and local governments are receiving $834.7 million in emergency rent assistance this year from the December 2020 COVID-19 relief package. Moreover, through the American Rescue Plan, Illinois is receiving more than $1.5 billion to prevent evictions and foreclosures and end homelessness. Our federal advocacy is greatly assisted by our partnership with the National Low Income Housing Coalition and other national organizations.

We also advocated for the State of Illinois to maintain a significantly longer, stronger eviction moratorium than the federal moratorium, and worked on education efforts to help people understand eviction protections.

State Senators Feigenholtz, Hunter, and Gillespie

Senators Feigenholtz, Hunter & Gillespie, key champions for the Affordable Housing Omnibus bill.

Govenor JP Pritzker and various other legislators at a Bill signing

Governor JB Pritzker signs the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act into law, next to key champion Representative Ramirez.

We shared knowledge and issue updates in the housing sector through regular trainings, and we supported housing counseling agencies to help them serve more families and build thriving communities.

Housing Counseling intermediary graphic

In 2021, Housing Action Illinois hosted 18 trainings. A total of 751 participants joined us to build their skills and knowledge.

During the first three quarters of federal FY21, the 34 housing counseling agencies in our HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary network served nearly 8,000 households.

In addition, Housing Action Illinois was awarded $1,051,776 in Housing Stability Counseling Program (HSCP) funding through NeighborWorks America. We are subgranting the funds to 23 organizations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri. These funds will support housing counseling programs, which help guide households facing housing instability, including eviction, default foreclosure, loss of income, or homelessness.

Our 24 full-year and 21 summer term AmeriCorps members helped communities throughout Illinois.

From organizing virtual design workshops for youth to moderating roundtable discussions with local nonprofit leaders, our VISTAs have been working to meet the needs of communities all over Illinois. In addition to undertaking many projects that can’t be captured by numbers, our AmeriCorps members helped bring in $616,457 in cash and in-kind donations and recruited or managed 1,311 volunteers.

AmeriCorps 2021 Numbers Graphic

We facilitated critical conversations, built relationships, and gained new perspectives at our second virtual Housing Matters Conference.

265 participants from 148 organizations joined us for the 2021 Housing Matters Conference, which we held virtually for the second year in a row.

Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace B. Hou shared keynote remarks and thanked participants for their work throughout the pandemic: “Your advocacy, your commitment, your partnership, your advice and guidance during the very, very turbulent times was critically important.”

Photos of HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou, and Governor JB Pritzker

We rejoined our partners to bring the conference as part of Resilient Communities: The National Forum, which meant participants were able to attend national sessions, including remarks from HUD Secretary Fudge. At our Housing Matters Keynote, Governor Pritzker and Secretary Hou shared remarks.

We continued to build awareness about critical issues related to affordable housing and homelessness.

By sharing information and real-life stories with policymakers, nonprofit service providers, and the media, we build awareness about housing issues. Our staff works to keep affordable housing in the headlines and make sure people understand our issues, building momentum to create change. 

Cook county Tax Sale Eviction Map

In November 2021, we released Racial Disparities & Cook County Tax Sale Evictions, a report finding that 73% of people identify as Black in the zip codes with the most tax sale evictions. By contrast, in zip codes with no tax sale evictions, 82% of people identify as white.

2021 Housing Profile Graphics

We partnered with the National Low Income Housing Coalition to release two reports on housing access. The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, finds a national shortage of nearly seven million affordable, available rental homes for extremely low-income renter households. Out of Reach shares critical housing affordability data, finding that renters working full-time must earn $22.11 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois.

We continued working to secure media coverage to raise awareness of housing issues. In 2021, we obtained more than 55 media placements. Visit our In the Media page to read articles written by or quoting our staff and pieces on our programs or proposed legislation.

Our members, donors, and funders joined us in working toward an Illinois where everyone has a good, affordable place to call home.

This year, we welcomed 23 new member organizations, including housing counseling agencies, homeless service providers, legal aid organizations, and others, making our coalition of more than 160 organizations even stronger. And, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we raised a total of $4,375 in individual contributions at our second online benefit.

We are always grateful for all of our supporters, both new and returning. Your support strengthens our efforts to make sure all Illinoisans have a good, affordable place to call home.

Continued Understanding & Empathy

Today, housing in the United States is at a critical point—here in Illinois, we are continuing to work to ensure that all individuals have access to a stable home, especially when having a home has become essential to preserving one’s mental and physical well-being. Please, join us on our path to create an Illinois with better, more stable, more just housing opportunities for everyone.

Help us build that brighter future.

Contribute to our mission to create an Illinois where everyone has a good, affordable place to call home.