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 2024 Illinois General Assembly session, as well as work implementing some of our previous successes. These are all measures that we believe will help families and communities across Illinois to thrive.

 

All the issues we work on have explicit economic and/or racial justice components. Whether our policy proposal is focused on ending homelessness, preventing evictions, creating affordable rental housing, promoting affordable homeownership, or something else, the people most impacted are low-income and people of color. You can read more about the systemic inequalities that inform our work on our issue pages.

 

Increase State Funding for the HOME Illinois Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness by $85 Million

Overall, we are requesting at least an additional $85 million in new funding in the fiscal year 2025 budget to keep making progress on the Home Illinois plan to reach functional zero homelessness statewide.

Of this, we have specific requests totaling $49.1 million for the following uses: homeless prevention ($10 million), emergency shelter ($20.1 million), homeless youth programs ($8 million) and supportive housing ($11 million).

For the remaining $35.9 million, we propose spending it on expanding other current HOME Illinois initiatives, such as shelter diversion, street outreach, rapid rehousing, scattered site supportive housing, access to counsel for people in eviction cases and other similar uses.

On December 28, 2023, we sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker, signed by 314 organizations, in support of this request.

The letter states that we also support increased funding to meet the needs of people who are new arrivals, including funding recently committed by the Pritzker administration.

While the emergency related to people who are new arrivals continues, we ask that parity be kept in mind when crafting the budget’s investments, to better serve both new and longstanding populations of people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Partners: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Illinois Shelter Alliance, Supportive Housing Providers Association, and homeless service providers throughout the state.

Pass the Community Safety Through Stable Homes Act

Safe communities don’t discriminate, and housing is a basic human right. Addressing crime concerns by depriving people of their homes is both ineffective and unjustified.

Chief Sponsors: Rep. La Shawn Ford (HB 5314) and Senator Karina Villa (SB 3680)

Many local governments have enacted so-called “crime-free housing and nuisance property” ordinances (CFNOs) with the misguided belief that they are effective at fighting crime and keeping communities safer.

Rather, CFNOs result in unfair penalties and evictions of tenants based on alleged criminal or nuisance activity, leading to instability and homelessness, which compromises public safety.

CFNOs frequently exclude people of color from housing and endanger our community’s most vulnerable members.

This includes survivors of domestic violence and people with disabilities, whose calls for emergency services or the police can lead to eviction rather than the assistance needed. These ordinances often violate fair housing and other civil rights laws.

The Community Safety through Stable Homes Act, once implemented, will prevent discrimination, help people contact police without fear, and focus on better responses to crime while also keeping families in their homes.

The bill protects civil rights and prevents homelessness by prohibiting local governments and public housing authorities from:

1. Forcing or encouraging landlords to evict tenants based on alleged criminal or nuisance behavior.

2. Classifying any law enforcement or emergency contact as nuisance behavior, including service calls from people seeking police assistance.

3. Requiring or encouraging landlords to use criminal background checks, preventing discrimination based on arrest and conviction records.

4. Requiring or encouraging landlords to evict entire households when one family member has an interaction with law enforcement or is convicted of a crime, protecting family unity and ensuring children are protected from homelessness.

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Partners include: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Justice Project, National Housing Law Project, Open Communities, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence and Thresholds

Support Strong Implementation of the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act (IL CRA)

IL CRA Rules on Schedule to be Finalized in Mid 2024

Passed as part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’s Economic Access, Equity and Opportunity Pillar and signed into law on March 23, 2021, the IL CRA (205 ILCS 735) will incentivize state-regulated financial institutions to meet the financial services needs of areas where there is a lack of access to affordable banking and lending services.

Examples of these needs include providing financing for community and economic development activities, credit to help small businesses thrive, access to sustainable and affordable mortgages and consumer credit with reasonable interest rates and underwriting criteria.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is currently finalizing the rules to implement the IL CRA, including the examination process for state regulated financial institutions—banks, credit unions and mortgage companies.

On January 12, 2024, IDFPR issued revised proposed administrative rules for the implementation of the IL CRA, with separate proposed rules for each type of regulated entities.

With the Woodstock Institute, we will continue to coordinate the work of the IL CRA Coalition to ensure that the administrative rules for the IL CRA law meet the community investment needs of low-income communities and that communities of color are the focal point of the IL CRA.  In support of these goals, we are organizing community-based organizations to testify at public hearings and submit public comments in support of these goals, as well as other means.

Pass Legislation Mandating a Disparity Study Necessary to Implement the IL CRA

Chief Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Belt (SB 3235)

SB 3235 requires IDFPR to conduct one or more studies to identify and define places in Illinois exhibiting significant disparities with respect to access to financial products and services, as well as lending and investments by covered financial institutions.

The studies will analyze disparities related to protected characteristics under the Illinois Human Rights Act, including, but not limited to, race, national origin, sex and marital status.

IDFPR will use the information, findings, and other results from the study as part of the IL CRA examination process, which will be detailed in rules; and update the Disparity Study at least every 4 years. IDFPR may utilize fees collected from regulated entities to cover the costs of the study.

Inclusion of the Disparity Study in the IL CRA implementation is critical to ensure the IL CRA can fulfill its purpose of being a tool for economic justice and racial equity.

Partners: Woodstock Institute and members of the IL CRA Coalition

Implement Property Tax Payment Plan Task Force Recommendations

The annual tax sale puts homeowners, especially seniors and those with disabilities, at risk of losing their home solely for delinquent property taxes that are purchased by investors motivated by profit, without regard for the long-term impact on families and communities.

Black and Brown communities are especially negatively impacted, as the current system makes it harder for households to transfer wealth, contributing to the racial wealth and homeownership gaps.

In response, in 2023, we and our partners developed Senate Bill 74, sponsored by Sen. Robert Peters and Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin. This legislation, passed and signed into law, created a task force to study and make recommendations for the implementation of a payment plan option to divert delinquent owner-occupied properties in Cook County from the annual tax sale.

The task force began meeting in October 2023, and the work should be completed in March 2024. Through the task force process and during the remainder of the year, we will advocate for creation of a well defined payment plan option for Cook County homeowners with delinquent property taxes that will help people avoid the annual tax sale.

We will also continue to work on longer term solutions to help homeowners afford their property taxes, as well as avoid the tax sale and potential loss of their home and assets.

Partners: Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago and the Housing Policy Task Force

Ending Housing Retaliatory Behavior

Chief Sponsors: Sen. Karina Villa (SB 3100) and Rep. Will Guzzardi (HB 4768)

State law requires landlords to maintain their tenants’ dwellings in a safe and habitable condition. This includes ensuring access to running water, heat, and that common areas are free from obstructions alongside other requirements. When these standards are not met, tenants may reach out to their landlords or municipalities’ building or health departments for assistance. Unfortunately, requesting assistance to resolve habitability issues may result in retaliatory behavior from their landlords.

This legislation defines behaviors protected from retaliation, such as requesting repairs and reporting code violations. The bill also defines examples of retaliation, such as increasing rent or eviciton, and provides legal remedies to challenge retaliation.

Partner: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Reform Public Conviction Registries and Housing Banishment Laws to Stop the Revolving Door from Re-Entry to Homelessness to Prison

Chief Sponsors: Sen. Kimberly Lightford (SB 2158) and Rep. Camille Lilly (HB 5251)

This legislation would modestly lessen residency restrictions for people on public conviction registries. Currently, people on conviction registries often are not allowed to live within 500 feet of a school, daycare, etc. In all but the most rural locations, this makes it nearly impossible for registrants to find stable housing. Further, there is no evidence that these residency restrictions make society safer; rather, forcing people into homelessness makes society less safe. Moreover, the current law has a hugely disparate impact on Black men. The bill takes very moderate steps to make life more livable for those who have done their time.

Partners: Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Chicago 400 and Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Implementation of Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act Improvements

In 2023, we worked with partners to successfully advocate for improvements, through SB 1476, to the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act (AHPAA). This longstanding state law requires local governments with the lowest amounts of affordable housing–either for sale or for rent–to develop plans to increase their supply of affordable homes. These communities are also subject to having denials of proposed affordable housing reviewed and overturned by a State Housing Appeal Board, but this provision has never been utilized.

In 2024, we will engage community-based stakeholders in the 44 municipalites on the December 2023 list of  “Non-Exempt Local Governments” to educate them about how AHPAA is a tool to promote local planning for affordable housing and to ensure they know about the 2023 reforms that addressed some of AHPAA’s shortcomings by:

1. Strengthening the requirements for affordable housing plans, both in terms of content and timelines. This includes identifying zoning restrictions and other local policies that do not affirmatively further fair housing and/or constrain the supply of affordable housing, and a first-time requirement for plans to include timelines for action steps and reporting on implementation.

2. Amending standards for filing an appeal to the State Housing Appeals Board so that any of the following parties can file: the developer, a person who would be eligible to apply for residency in the proposed affordable housing development, or a housing organization whose geographic focus area includes the municipality or county where the proposed affordable housing development is located.

3. Updating the composition of the State Housing Appeals Board to reduce obstacles to identifying a chair and other members.

Public Education on State of Illinois Source of Income Fair Housing Protections

In 2022, we, as a member of the Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing, successfully worked to pass legislation creating a statewide source of income fair housing protection within the Illinois Human Rights Act. The law went into effect at the beginning of 2023.

Recently the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released a FAQ to help people understand the new law. IDHR included examples of incomes covered under the definition of “source of income,” including, but not limited to, Housing Choice Vouchers, emergency housing assistance payments, SSI and SSDI. Also, this FAQ clarified that housing providers may not use an income standard that excludes persons receiving housing subsidies. For example, if a landlord requires that a prospective tenant earn 3 times the monthly rent of the apartment, the landlord needs to take any rental subsidies into consideration.

In 2023, we held in person and virtual workshops across the state to educate community members and residents about this new protection for renters. We did more in depth work with five Centers for Independent Living around the state to engage their staff and grass roots leaders so that they can help us get the word out about the new law.  The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing also created factsheets and an advocacy toolkit to help individuals understand their housing rights and advocate for themselves. We will continue this work in 2024 with these and other partners.

Partners: Members of the Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing.

Additional Issues

Additional issues we will be working on include participating in the recently formed State of Illinois Community Land Trust Task Force, helping develop a policy response to the Tyler v. Hennepin County US Supreme Court decision regarding how states protect the equity of homeowners and others who lose their properties due to unpaid property taxes, supporting creation of the Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit, providing recommendations for the next version of the state plan to prevent and end homelesness, establishing protections against rent increases and displacement for manufactured home owners, increasing resources for seniors to do home repairs and more.

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:
bob@housingactionil.org | (312) 939-6075