2023 Year in Review

In 2023, our coalition brought together over 180 member organizations and many more individual supporters to work toward an Illinois where everyone has a stable, affordable place to call home. Every day, on our own and through coalition work with partners, we continue to help low- to moderate-income homeowners, renters, and people experiencing homelessness.

Strong Roots, Thriving Communities

In 2023, we continued to grow our roots in Illinois, but we also expanded some of our programming into new states and regions. Our focus is still on Illinois, our home state, but we know that our communities’ fates are intertwined, and change means partnering with allies near and far.

Public Policy Advocacy

Representative Bill Foster and staff met with Housing Action staff & fellow advocates during the NLIHC forum 2023 lobby day

We presented at the inaugural HOME Illinois Summit, where we joined allies to talk about how we plan to end homelessness in Illinois

In 2023, our key wins included expanding housing opportunities for renters, increasing state investments in affordable housing, and making critical progress on efforts to end homelessness.

New State Budget Includes Historic Investment in Ending Homelessness

The final state budget for fiscal year 2024 includes a new $200.3 million Home Illinois line item, which makes historic increased investments in preventing and ending homelessness. Within the Home Illinois line item, $85 million is new General Revenue Fund resources. Now, there will be significantly increased funding for priorities we advocated for, including record increases for the Emergency and Transitional Housing (ETH) Program ($42 million) and the Homeless Prevention Program ($10.8 million).

Strengthened State Law on Local Planning for Affordable Housing

Housing Action Illinois worked with partners to advocate for improvements to the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act (AHPAA). This longstanding state law requires local governments with the lowest amounts of affordable housing to develop plans to increase their supply of affordable housing stock. Senate Bill 1476 will strengthen the requirements for plans, such as identifying zoning restrictions and other local policies that do not affirmatively further fair housing and/or constrain the supply of affordable housing, as well as a first-time requirement for plans to include timelines for action steps and reporting on implementation.

Established Property Tax Payment Plan Task Force

The annual property tax sale in Cook County puts homeowners, especially seniors and those with disabilities, at risk of losing their homes 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. Housing Action and partners developed legislation to create a task force to study and recommend implementing 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 we hope its work will pave the way for legislation creating a payment plan option for Cook County homeowners with delinquent property taxes in 2024.

Capacity Building

We build the capacity of housing nonprofits through individualized coaching and technical assistance, trainings, and pass-through funding, specifically focusing on supporting housing counseling agencies. These agencies offer no- or low-cost education and one-on-one counseling for families and individuals who are renting, buying, or looking to stay in their homes.

In 2023, we welcomed 609 participants at 26 trainings and received nearly $1.4 million from HUD to distribute to housing counseling agencies and continue our national trainings.

HUD Intermediary

As an Intermediary, we secure funding from HUD and pass it on to an affiliate network of more than 30 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies primarily located in Illinois, but also Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri. This year, we welcomed an affiliate located in Wisconsin and our first affiliate beyond the Midwest, based in Tennessee. We help these agencies with administrative functions and assist each agency to ensure it meets program standards and client needs. We aid them in expending funds, leveraging other resources, compiling reports, training staff, and staying abreast of new funding opportunities. With our support and resources, these agencies are able to help more families and create more change in their communities.

In 2023, HUD announced that it will award $1,147,942 to Housing Action for our Intermediary work, which we will distribute through subgrants to the 30+ housing counseling agencies in our network. Learn more »

Nationwide Trainings for Housing Counseling

We continually seek to expand the capacity of non-profit organizations working to end homelessness and expand affordable housing so that effective programs can be delivered to diverse communities throughout Illinois. One of the most visible ways we do this is through our lineup of regular trainings, focusing on workshops for housing counselors, which we bring in partnership with leaders in the field like Cora Fulmore.

In July, we took a new step forward with our trainings: we partnered with Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) to present our Housing Counseling Career Path training series. For the first time, we held the course during the evening to increase access for working participants. 11 participants joined us, and one has already passed the HUD exam.

Individualized Guidance

A key way we strengthen our members, which isn’t as visible from the outside, is through individualized capacity building support. This takes on many different forms, depending on what a housing organization needs. Often, for housing counseling agencies, it means our Capacity Building Specialists help them prepare for and pass required HUD reviews. Sometimes, we advise on expanding a program or starting services in a new area. Other times, our staff members help an organization troubleshoot a problem with turnover or advise on building support for a new initiative. 

Information to Guide Decision-Making

 Another way we strengthen housing professionals is by equipping them to make decisions by sharing industry information and updates. In September, we released the third version of our CMS Guide. Housing counseling agencies rely on Client Management Systems (CMSs) to track clients and outcomes while helping families and individuals find and keep good homes, repair credit, and budget for the future. We contacted every HUD-approved CMS and developed new profiles of these systems to help housing counseling agencies assess their options.

In 2023, we collaborated with the The City Of Decatur, Illinois, Community Investment Corporation of Decatur, Inc. (an intermediary affiliate), & the Central IL Land Bank Authority on the Abandonment to Rehab Program 

Housing Action’s Capacity Building team visited Embarras River Basin Agency, Inc. to offer support and guidance during the agency’s HUD review

AmeriCorps VISTA

Housing Action understands that many of our members have capacity building needs without the human capital to address those needs. This is why we manage an AmeriCorps national service program, matching AmeriCorps service members with community-based organizations to help them build capacity.

In 2023, we had a record-breaking number of applications and placements. We placed 40 full-year AmeriCorps VISTA Members with host organizations around Illinois and in 6 states nationwide to help them do more and do it better. In addition to many other kinds of capacity building projects, these AmeriCorps Members recruited and managed 1,044 volunteers and raised more than $643,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

Check out a couple spotlights of our AmeriCorps members to see what their year of service was like:
Ezella’s experience at NiREACH
Marshall’s multiple years of experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps members at the Chicago Furniture Bank for our 2023 9/11 Day of Service

Public Education & Organizing

By sharing information and real-life stories with policymakers, nonprofit service providers, and the media, we build awareness about housing issues and the urgent need for more quality, affordable housing throughout the state. Our staff works to keep affordable housing in the headlines and make sure people understand our issues, building momentum to create change. In 2023, we returned to Bloomington, IL for our sold-out annual Housing Matters Conference.

2023 Housing Matters Conference

We were thrilled to hold our largest conference ever this year! Nearly 350 participants from 168 organizations joined us to partake in critical conversations, build relationships, and gain new perspectives. Throughout the two days, we facilitated 16 breakout workshops covering topics related to affordable housing development, ending homelessness, housing counseling, and policy advocacy. We also networked, hosted a reception, and honored our new cohort of AmeriCorps VISTAs.

During our opening keynote, we welcomed Marisol Bello of Housing Narrative Lab, who discussed how narratives can build support for our cause, create solutions, and make positive change. For our closing keynote, we were joined by author and educator Dr. Andre Perry of the Brookings Institute, who spoke about how valuing Black property shapes our communities and joined The Chicago Community Trust’s Marisa Novara in conversation. We were also joined by artist William Estrada, who led participants in an interactive screen-printing activity to create tote bags with the theme “What Does Home Mean to You?”

All of our programming helped participants return to their communities with more of the foundational skills, resources, and relationships needed to strengthen their impact and expand their outreach.

Save the date for our next Housing Matters Conference, which will take place in Bloomington on October 17 & 18, 2024.

Linoleum prints created in the Collaborative Resistance Printshop course at the UIC School of Art & Art History in the spring of 2023 with Professor William Estrada. Students in the course created works in response to Housing Action Illinois’ priority issue areas, all related to affordable housing and homelessness.

Raising Awareness & Shaping Narratives

In 2023, we continued to speak up to change the narrative on affordable housing in the media. Visit our Press Releases and Media Placements webpage to read articles written by or quoting our staff and pieces on our programs or proposed legislation.

As usual, we also partnered with the National Low Income Housing Coalition to release two annual reports:

  • The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes report finds that there are only 34 available and affordable homes per 100 low-income renter households in Illinois
  • Out of Reach finds that renters working full-time must earn $24.59 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois

As part of our work to on Illinois’ new source of income fair housing protections, which went into effect on January 1, we have been working with a cohort of 5 Centers for Independent Living around the state, including a grassroots leader from each, to facilitate the involvement of people with disabilities in public education, implementation and enforcement efforts.

For our work on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, we engaged multi-sector partners in a variety of ways, including organizing 21 Illinois-based multi-sector groups in the environmental, consumer protection, healthcare and related sectors to call on the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to prohibit landlords with FHFA backed mortgages from imposing egregious and predatory rent increases to help reduce cost burdens for tenants and stabilize communities.

Jen Straub (Cunningham Township), Foluke Akanni (Housing Action), Esther Patt (Champaign-Urbana Tenant Union), Danielle Chynoweth (Cunningham Township), and Michael Chavarria (HOPE Fair Housing) at an SOI training in April 2023 in Champaign, IL

Thank You

We are always grateful for all of our supporters. Your support strengthens our efforts to expand access to affordable housing in every community.

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