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 2023 Illinois General Assembly session, as well as local level work—measures that we believe will help families and communities across Illinois to 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.
Increase State Funding for Emergency Shelter System by $51 Million & Invest in Other Critical Homelessness Programs
Chief Sponsors: Sen. Adriane Johnson (SB 2241) and Rep. Michelle Mussman (HB 2481)
The purpose of this legislation is to demonstrate support for significantly increased funding for the core state programs that prevent and end homelessness in the fiscal year 2024 state budget, which are central to the State of Illinois plan to prevent and end homelessness.
For example, the Illinois Interagency Task Force on Homelessness recently estimated that Illinois needs 4,551 additional emergency shelter beds statewide.
This is, in part, due to chronic state underfunding. Taking inflation into account, current state funding for the Emergency and Transitional Housing (ETH) Program, $10.38 million, is only half what it was 20 years ago.
This is one reason why we are advocting for a significant inrease in funding for the ETH Program. Our requested increase would bring funding to $61.38 million from the current funding level of $10.38 million (which has essentially been the funding level for many, many years).
Another is a significant increase in people who are homeless and in need of shelter around the state, but cannot access shelter because local shelters are full or there is no local shelter.
Every shelter bed that does not exist represents a person, often a child, in Illinois who literally has no place to call home. The lack of emergency shelter often forces people to live outside, in a car, and/or in a place where their physical safety and life are at risk.
For the most vulnerable, including people who are victims of domestic violence and people with mental illness, having access to emergency shelter makes the difference between life and death.
Illinois has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more humane and effective crisis housing system: using federal pandemic recovery resources to help acquire and develop non-congregate and fixed-site shelters in former hotels and other sites.
Increased ETH funding from the state is also crucial to provide the operating and service funding necessary to make use of the federal funds and to help implement the state plan to reach functional zero homelessness in Illinois.
We are also supporting funding increases necessary for the following IDHS Programs: Homeless Prevention ($5 million), Homeless Youth ($5 million), and Supportive Housing Services ($14.5 million).
Partners: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Illinois Shelter Alliance, Supportive Housing Providers Association, and homeless service providers throughout the state.
Expand Eviction Sealing to Help People Find a Home
Chief Sponsors: Rep. La Shawn Ford (HB 1659) and Sen. Karina Villa (SB 242)
Having an eviction filing on your record hampers your ability to find a home, regardless of the outcome of the case. Illinois eviction filings remain in the public record indefinitely, trapping people and families in poverty. Based on pre-pandemic data, more than 50% of eviction filings in Illinois do not result in a judgment against the tenant.*
Sealing provisions from the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act, PA 102-005, sunset in 2022. As a result, Illinois has regressed to previous strict standards for sealing eviction records.
Our proposed bill ensures individuals and families have equitable access to housing by:
- Sealing any court file pending or initiated after the effective date of the legislation when the case is dismissed, the tenant wins the case, a satisfaction of judgment is filed, the parties agree to seal, or there is no material violation of the lease
- Requiring all eviction records to be sealed after 7 years
- Dismissing and sealing cases when no action has been taken for 180 days
- Prohibiting the distribution of information about a sealed court file by consumer reporting agencies, including tenant screening companies
Endorse this bill as an organization or individual »
Partners: Communities United, Law Center for Better Housing, and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Prevent Homeowner Displacement in Cook County through Property Tax Payment Plans
Chief Sponsors: Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin (HB 1238) and Sen. Robert Peters (SB 74)
The inclusion of owner-occupied homes in the Cook County annual tax sale puts people at risk of losing their home solely for delinquent property taxes purchased by investors motivated by profit, without regard for the long-term impact on families and communities.
Black and Brown homeowners and communities, seniors, and those with disabilities are especially negatively impacted by this. The current system makes it harder for households to transfer wealth, contributing to the racial wealth and homeownership gaps.
Our proposed law would allow Cook County homeowners to pay delinquent property taxes on a payment plan. As long as taxpayers are in good standing with the payment plan, they would not be subject to the tax sale. Interest collected on the delinquent payments would go to local taxing districts, not tax purchasers.
Endorse this bill as an organization or individual »
Partners: Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Chicago Community Loan Fund, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Rehab Network, and Legal Action Chicago
Improve Homeowner Notices and Tenant Protections During the Tax Sale Process
Chief Sponsors: Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin (HB 2554) and Sen. Robert Peters (SB 2082)
In tandem with our work to keep Cook County residents who are delinquent on property taxes in their homes through payment plans, we are advocating for improved notices for homeowners and protections for tenants facing a loss of a home through the tax sale process.
Potentially losing your home due to unpaid property taxes, whether someone is an owner or a renter, is unjust, traumatizing, and stressful. The tax sale process is extremely complicated, which adds to the stress and uncertainty. While working on broader reforms to make losing your home due to unpaid property taxes impossible, or at least unlikely, we want to support individuals facing this situation right now. Our proposal includes:
- Improving notices to homeowners by including brief information in common languages other than English so that homeowners know to seek out additional information they need to understand their situation.
- Informing homeowners that they may be able to request a payment from their county’s Indemnity Fund if they lose their home due to a tax sale and owned more equity than total overdue property taxes, fees, and interest. At present, no such notice is provided.
- If a residential rental property goes through a change in ownership, providing tenants information about what happened, how to contact the new owner, and who to pay rent to, as well as strengthening requirements for a new owner to honor existing leases. At present, tenants can be evicted with little or no notice and have limited protections when the owner of the building was not paying property taxes and lost ownership. The provisions mirror the longstanding protections we and others advocated for to assist tenants in rental homes that have been foreclosed on.
Partners: Law Center for Better Housing and Legal Action Chicago
Strengthen the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeals Act (AHPAA)
Chief Sponsor: Sen. Ann Gillespie (SB 1476)
State law since 2004, the AHPAA (310 ILCS 67) requires municipalities with low housing affordability—homes for sale or rent—to develop and implement plans for increasing the local stock of affordable housing. AHPAA can do more to help the affordable housing, segregation, and population growth challenges in the Chicago area and around the state.
The law has encouraged a small number of communities to take meaningful actions, but numerous problems with the law contribute to chronic problems faced by our region, including the shortage of affordable housing, racial and economic segregation, and population decline, particularly among working-class Black and Latinx households.
AHPAA could be a useful tool to help solve these chronic problems, but the law must be fixed first. Our proposal addresses five key issues, including the exemption of almost every municipality in Illinois because the acceptable level of affordable housing in a community is incredibly low.
Partners: Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Connections for the Homeless, and H.O.M.E Seniors
Support Strong Rules for Implementing the IL Community Reinvestment Act
On December 16, 2022, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued proposed regulations for the implementation of the Illinois Community and Revitalization Act (IL CRA). Public comments on the proposed rules are due on March 16, and 3 public hearings have been scheduled for March 2 (two hearings) and March 8.
We will coordinate the work of the IL CRA Coalition to educate the public about what is in the proposed rule and organize a public comment effort to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color are the focal point of the IL CRA.
The IL CRA complements the federal CRA by providing oversight for state-regulated financial institutions. It was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on March 23, 2021, in a historic victory for low-income communities and communities of color in Illinois. With this legislation, Illinois became the second state with an oversight system to ensure that residents are equitably served by all three major segments of the mortgage lending market: state-chartered banks, state-chartered credit unions, and state-licensed mortgage companies.
Register for our Zoom meeting, to be held Tuesday, February 28 at 10:00 a.m., to discuss what’s at stake and what you can do to support strong IL CRA rules.
Partners: Woodstock Institute and other IL CRA Coalition members
Want to help us make this agenda a reality?
Sign up for our policy alerts here or get in touch with Bob Palmer, our Policy Director:
email@example.com | (312) 939-6075