2016 Annual Conference

Thanks to the more than 225 participants who joined us to dig into the issues, hear from experts, and build relationships on October 27 & 28  in Bloomington, Illinois.

See the full conference program book »
Check out photos from the conference »

Workshop presentations are available for selected speakers; click through below to find the slides.

Plenary Sessions
Opening Plenary Session: State Budget Update with Ralph Martire
The state budget crisis continues to hurt nonprofits’ ability to provide safety net services in a wide variety of areas, including efforts to prevent and end homelessness, provide emergency shelter, and operate permanent supportive housing. To talk about this situation, we’re excited to welcome back Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Ralph will discuss how the stopgap budget passed in June 2016 impacts Illinois’ short- and long-term fiscal condition, and the choices that
our elected leaders will face after the November election.
See presentation slides »

Afternoon Plenary Session: Fearless Lobbying and Advocacy
The ability of a charitable organization’s ability to effectively advance its mission is often affected by federal and state budgets, laws and regulations. But do you know everything your 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to do to advance positive policies, as well as the few things that are not allowed? Jody Adler of The Law Project will explain the differences between advocacy and lobbying (which is legal for nonprofits to do, with certain limitations), and how to properly track these activities for compliance purposes. We will also discuss election activities, including highlighting what is allowed, prohibited, and the grey area in-between. Finally, we will talk about the use of social media in policy campaigns, including the separation of your professional and personal use of channels.
See presentation slides »

Closing Plenary Session: What’s at Stake in the Federal Election? An Update with Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition
The November election, which will happen less than two weeks after our conference, will have a significant impact on federal affordable housing and anti-poverty policy for the next four years and beyond. At this session, Diane Yentel, the new President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, will discuss her perspective on how affordable housing and anti-poverty issues have been discussed during the election and will identify key issues to focus on after the election.
See presentation slides »

Public Policy Advocacy
Building Power to Win Change in Illinois (two sessions)
Considering the historic year-long state budget impasse and the current political climate, it is important that housing providers and social service agencies build power to influence legislators and mobilize their communities. Join this dynamic two-part workshop to explore community organizing as a way to build that effective power. The first session will focus on exploring the concepts of community organizing, hearing from local service providers’ community organizing strategies. We will also talk with organizers in Washington state and California about their exciting statewide efforts of organizing affordable housing residents, those experiencing homelessness and service providers into a powerful statewide network for change. At our second session, participants will discuss opportunities for organizing for affordable homes in Illinois and delve into organizing tools such as power-mapping exercise to help identify key decision makers, institutions, nontraditional allies, and resident leaders in their community.
Speaker: Katy Heins, Center for Community Change; Shelly Richardson, Impact Center for Independent Living; Rickielee Benecke, LIFE Center for Independent Living

Creating an Effective Communications Framework
Now more than ever, nonprofit leaders in Illinois need to know how to create a communications framework to help build political and financial support for their organizations and missions. During this session, we will hear examples of communications tactics that have worked for other agencies, discuss developing a media outreach strategy, get tips on being an effective spokesperson for your agency, and begin shaping messages for specific audiences.
See presentation materials from:
Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law: presentation slides, media tips, and message building toolkit
Sue Loelbach, Connections for the Homeless: presentation slides
Andrew Geer, Enterprise Community Partners: presentation slides and Frameworks Institute messaging reports

HUD Guidance on Housing for People with Criminal Records
In April 2016, HUD issued a new guidance for private landlords and federally assisted housing providers stating that blanket policies for refusing to rent or renew a lease based on an individual’s criminal history may violate the federal Fair Housing Act, since those policies have a disparate impact on African American and Latino communities. Previously, in November 2015, HUD issued a guidance for Public Housing Authorities and owners of other federally-assisted housing declaring that arrest records may not be the basis for denying admission, terminating assistance or evicting tenants. At this workshop, we will discuss how advocates and case managers can use the new guidance to help people with criminal records overcome housing barriers.
Speaker: Kate Walz, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
See presentation slides »

Ending Homelessness

Housing and Health: Public Policy Opportunities
As is true of states across our nation, the state of Illinois is implementing a variety of new initiatives to integrate health care and supportive housing. These include participation in the federal Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, the Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver proposal, and a  soon-to-be released report from the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Supportive Housing Working Group. During this session, we’ll begin with an overview of these new initiatives before delving into the implications for people experiencing homelessness, people with mental health issues, people with developmental disabilities, and other populations.
Speakers: Lore Baker, Illinois Housing Department of Human Services; John Fallon, CSH
See presentation slides »

Housing and Health: Provider-Driven Initiatives
How can homeless service providers best to take advantage of opportunities to integrating health care and housing resources? Join us to learn about an innovative collaboration and a new research report intended to address this question. The Better Health Through Housing Collaborative is a partnership of 29 supportive housing agencies working together to partner with health providers, systems, and networks, including a pilot project to address the housing needs of frequent users of hospitals and health care systems. The new report from the Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance analyzes issues that many permanent supportive housing providers face while trying to access Medicaid resources for their agency and the people they serve; it includes recommendations for both providers and health care policy.
See presentation slides from:
Katie Buitrago, Social IMPACT Research Center
Cheryl Potts, Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance

Trauma-Informed Housing for Survivors of Violence and Abuse
A major barrier for many victims attempting to leave an abusive situation is the struggle to access safe, sustainable housing. This workshop will focus on the unique needs of clients who are also survivors of abuse, and ways housing service providers can tailor programs to better address their multifaceted needs with a trauma-informed lens. Presenters will also demonstrate how systems designed to help may be misinformed, inadvertently compounding a survivor’s trauma by restricting their control or access. Presenters will discuss how a trauma-informed service model not only helps better meet survivor needs, but also reduces potential for systemic re-victimization.
Speakers: Jaclyn Kolnik and Jennifer Hiselman, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; Angie Hunt, HOPE of East Central Illinois
See presentation slides »

Housing Counseling

Fair Lending and the Community Reinvestment Act for Housing Counselors
As housing markets recover and lenders relax their underwriting criteria, what can housing counselors do to protect their home buying clients from potential predatory lending practices? At this session, speakers from fair housing agencies share the red flags of fair lending violations, guidance for what to do when you suspect violations, and what happens after a complaint is filed.
Speakers: Sarah Delgado, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance; Todd Fuller and Kamal Ganjalikhani, HOPE Fair Housing Center
See presentation slides »
See Community Planning and Public Participation: A Handbook for Advocates and Community Residents »

New Ideas for Community Engagement and Alternative Funding Models (this session is generously sponsored by Boston Community Capital)
Did we mention the year-long state budget impasse has put a strain on housing counseling activities? In this workshop, we will highlight three agencies’ efforts to implement innovative, community-specific programming. The new ideas are not only engaging clients on their terms, but raising awareness (and funds!) that are supporting agency work and their communities.
Speakers: Robert Anthony, Affordable Housing Corporation of Lake County; Alexandra Canalos, Center for Changing Lives; Carmen Landecho, Northwest Side Housing Center
See presentation slides »

Managing Student Loan Debt
A staggering number of Americans are affected by debilitating student loan debt. During this session, we will discuss tools and resources available to help debtors get out of default and on affordable income-based repayment plans. You will learn to identify when debtors may be eligible for discharge or forgiveness of their loans, or have defenses to a collection lawsuit, and we will discuss the treatment of student loans in bankruptcy.
Speakers: Kathryn Liss, LAF; Joseph Sanders, Office of the Attorney General
See presentation slides »

From Energy Savings to Down Payment Programs: Helping Clients Save Money Now and in the Future
To provide you with as many tools and ideas to help your clients as possible, we’re trying something new this year: we’re splitting this workshop into two mini-sessions. In the first mini-session, you’ll learn how to help your clients save both energy and money. We’ll talk about how currently available energy savings programs and strategies can not only help the environment but also help your clients make their homes more affordable in the long-term. Then, in our second mini-session, Tim Klont from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago will highlight how your organization can use the bank’s programs, including the Down Payment Plus and the Affordable Housing Program, to meet your clients’ homeownership goals. By leveraging these kinds of latest tips and tools, you can help your clients maximize their savings both now and in the future.
See presentation slides from:
Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Faith in Place
Tim Klont, FHLBC

Affordable Housing & Development

High-Performance Affordable: Cost-Effective Design & Construction Strategies for Healthy, Efficient Housing
In many circles, green is synonymous with expensive—but this doesn’t have to be the case. Green should, however, equate with quality. A bit of extra legwork up front can yield big dividends from the total cost of ownership standpoint. Using a building science framework, this session will explore a suite of high-performance homebuilding approaches that can lower operations and maintenance costs, shrink a building’s environmental footprint, and reduce occupant health and comfort issues. Real-life examples of best practices will show that this isn’t an issue of feasibility, but of willingness to capture opportunity.
Speaker: Thor Peterson, Parkland College
See presentation slides »

Historic Preservation and Community Development
The restoration and repurposing of historic structures has helped to revitalize neighborhoods and business districts in big cities and small towns. Could the restoration of a historic structure be the key to your community’s revitalization strategy? Join us for a discussion about the ins and outs of redeveloping historic structures and the financing and incentives that are available to encourage re-use.
Moderator: Mary Lu Seidel, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Jeff Anderson, City of Moline
See presentation slides »

Crisis in Rural Housing: Preservation of USDA Section 515 Affordable Housing
The lack of clean, decent, and affordable rental housing is often seen as an issue that only impacts cities. But the transition of the USDA Section 515 rural development program from development to preservation has meant the exit of nearly 100,000 affordable units from the program since 2014. How can developers and government work together to preserve and expand the availability of subsidized rental housing in rural markets? Timothy Herwig, District Community Affairs Officer with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will moderate a panel of developers, financiers and government officials to explore solutions for ensuring the availability of affordable rental housing.
Moderator: Timothy Herwig, OCC
Panelists: Tom Caldwell, Cinnaire; Michael Todd, Rural Rental Housing Association of Illinois
See presentation slides »

Strong Neighborhood House: A Model for Community Revitalization
In 2015, Zion Development, the United Way of Rock River Valley and the Rockford Police Department developed the Strong Neighborhood House, a rehabilitated home in the community that houses a police substation, provides space for residents to secure needed services, and hosts community events. The Strong Home has become a focal point for the community, improved police-community relations, and provided a safe space for kids and teens. Join Executive Director of Zion Development (and Housing Action Board member) Bob Campbell, CEO of the United Way of Rock River Valley Paul Logli, and Assistant Deputy Chief Carla Redd of the Rockford Polic Department to discuss how the Strong Home concept was developed, lessons learned, and how the Strong Home model can be replicated in other communities.
Speakers: Bob Campbell, Zion Development; Paul Logli, United Way of Rock River Valley; Carla Redd, Rockford Police Department

Organizational Leadership Development

(This workshop track sponsored by Midland States Bank)

Be in Compliance: Understanding If and How the New Overtime Rules Apply to Your Organization
Effective on December 1, 2016, new overtime pay rules will go into effect that could have a significant impact on your budget and service delivery models. This workshop will help you determine whether your organization is subject to this new rule (not all organizations are), which employees fall within its coverage, and how to ensure that you come into and remain in compliance if the new overtime rules apply to your organization and at least some of your employees. We will also cover the consequences of not being in compliance.
Speakers: Jody Adler, The Law Project; Lauren Novak and Nora Kersten Walsh, Schiff Hardin
See presentation slides »

Compliance Pays: How Ensuring Compliance with Fair Lending and Consumer Protection Laws is the Roadmap to Sound Community Development in the 21st Century (two sessions)
Agencies in charge of overseeing and enforcing federal consumer protection and civil rights laws and policies have increased their scrutiny of how recipients of federal funds have utilized these monies, which offer critical lessons for housing professional in how these same laws and policies can help drive equitable community development. This combined session will first provide a brief history of community development in the U.S., an overview of the pertinent laws and polices, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, the Fair Housing Act, Executive Order 12892, and HUD’s new rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, and discuss what is required to comply with them.  This session will then dive into how compliance with these federal laws and policies supports increased and more strategic private and public investments that can improve the quality of life for all residents in Illinois’ urban, suburban and rural communities.  Practical examples of public-private-nonprofit community development partnerships will be highlighted.
Speaker: Jeffrey May, International Development & Planning, LLC
See presentation slides »
HUD Guidance on affirmatively furthering fair housing guidance »

Partnerships, Networks, and Mergers, Oh My! Strategic Structures for Your Organization’s Future
Organizations need to determine how to accelerate their social impact as demand for their work increases and resources become increasingly scarce. Many times, the best strategy is bringing multiple organizations together. During this workshop, we will look at multiple different strategic restructuring models, ranging from collaborations to joint venture partnerships to mergers and everything in-between. Executive Directors and Board members will benefit from learning about these potential strategies and whether they would be right for their organization.
Speaker: Mary Anderson, Mission+Strategy
See presentation slides »

2016 Conference Sponsors

Housing Action Illinois’ 2016 Housing Matters! Conference was generously sponsored by:

Platinum Level

JPMorgan Chase & Co.
State Farm
Midland States Bank

*Midland States Bank is our Organizational Leadership Track Sponsor

Silver Level


Bronze Level

Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen

Associated Bank
BMO Harris Bank
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
First Midwest Bank
Heartland Bank & Trust Company
Hometown Community Banks
Neumann Family Services

Friend Level

Country Financial