Beginning with Home: Housing Action Illinois 2019 Anuual Report Where we live affects everything in our lives: our health, our access to education, our job opportunities, our ability to save money, how we raise our children, and what kind of future we build for ourselves and our families. At Housing Action Illinois, we want a future in which every Illinoisan, no matter their income, has a good, stable place to call home.


Housing Action Illinois 2019 Annual Report  

Dear Members and Supporters,

Where we live affects everything in our lives: our health, our access to education, our job opportunities, our ability to save money, how we raise our children, and what kind of future we build for ourselves and our families. At Housing Action Illinois, we want a future in which every Illinoisan, no matter their income, has a good, stable place to call home.

We are publishing this report in September 2020, amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis, economic downturn, and widespread social unrest in response to systemic racism. We are facing challenges both new and old. However, as we work to meet these challenges and build a better future, we must also reflect on the past and honor the work that has moved us forward. In 2019, we made significant strides toward our vision of an Illinois where everyone has a good place to call home. We are proud of our accomplishments, and we know they would not have been possible without collective action and strong partners from around the state. 

Thank you for your support—you are helping us create a tomorrow in which our communities are not just surviving but thriving.

Signature for Sharon Legenza

Sharon Legenza
Executive Director

Signature for Mary Lu Seidel

Mary Lu Seidel
Co-Chair, Board of Directors

Signature for Sheila Dodd

Sheila Dodd
, Board of Directors


Each year, we mobilize our members and allies to advocate for policies that help end homelessness and housing discrimination, create affordable rental housing, and promote sustainable home ownership. We aim to increase federal, state, and local investments in proven housing programs, as well as to develop new policy solutions. Working alongside strong allies, we had a number of key wins.

for Affordable Housing

We successfully advocated for $200 million for affordable housing in the Illinois capital budget. Through direct funding and by leveraging other resources, these dollars will help people rent or buy homes as well as support innovative initiatives such as reentry housing programs and health + housing partnerships.

The Homeless Prevention Program helps people avoid experiencing homelessness by providing them with rental and utility assistance. We secured a $4 million—more than 80%—increase for the program, bringing its total funding to $9 million. We estimate this will support 6,500 households.

Households Provided with Rental Assistance

Children Protected from Lead Poisoning

In 2018, we advocated for a law requiring Illinois to update its definition of an elevated blood lead level. In 2019, we secured $6 million in new funding to implement the rules, bringing total funding to approximately $10 million. As a result, an additional 6,000 children are newly eligible for resources including nurse care management and inspections to identify lead hazards in their environments.

As co-chair of the Just Housing Initiative, we successfully advocated for protections from housing discrimination for people with arrest and conviction records in Cook County. The campaign brought together more than 100 organizations and leaders with lived experience, who shared their personal stories and helped plan campaign strategies. The protections went into effect at the end of 2019.

Individuals Given a Fair Chance at Housing


Through our Capacity Building program, we help nonprofit housing organizations build staff expertise and become more effective at their work, ensuring that agencies keep up with changing trends, new technology, and best practices. We offer workshops and one-on-one support to provide housing practitioners with the resources, knowledge, and skills they need to serve more families and help our communities thrive.

Training & Consulting

Our team of expert Capacity Building Specialists design trainings that serve the unique needs of housing organizations. In 2019, more than 2,000 participants attended our in-person and virtual workshops.

We launched our Online Study Group in 2018 to help housing counselors prepare to take and pass the HUD Individual Certification Exam. This year, we took it national, drawing more than 420 participants from 39 states. Having certified housing counselors will help ensure more effective and standardized counseling services and more knowledgeable counselors.

Feedback from attendees has been very positive, with counselors reporting that they feel better prepared to take the exam after participating in the Online Study Group.

“Took the test the Tuesday after the study group ended and passed on the first try. The study group was indispensable in so many ways!”

– Karen Crump, Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California


Infographic showing that 14,189 homes received help in understanding what their housing options were during 2019.
As a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary, we secure funding from HUD and pass it on to our affiliated housing counseling agencies. We provide assistance with administrative functions and help each agency ensure it meets program standards and client needs. With our support and resources, our affiliates are able to help more families find and keep good homes.

In 2019, we received $1.2 million from HUD—the 7th largest award in the nation—and distributed it to 33 housing counseling agencies in the region.

Access Living, Chicago
Advantage Housing, Kokomo, IN
Brightpoint, Fort Wayne, IN
CDBG Operations Corporation, East St. Louis
CEFS Economic Opportunity Corporation, Effingham
Center for Changing Lives, Chicago
Central Detroit Christian Community Development, Detroit, MI
Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County, Chicago
Community Investment Corporation of Decatur, Decatur
Community Service Council of Northern Will County, Bolingbrook
Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, Ford Heights
Embarras River Basin Agency, Greenup
Genesis Housing Development Corporation, Chicago
H.O.M.E. DuPage, Wheaton
HOPE of Evansville, Evansville, IN
Housing Opportunities, Valparaiso, IN
Housing Opportunity Development Corp., Techny
The Housing Partnership, St. Louis, MO
justine PETERSEN, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Kingdom Community, Chicago
Lake County Housing Authority, Grayslake
Latin United Community Housing Association, Chicago
Menard County Housing Authority, Petersburg
METEC Resource Center, Peoria
Northside Community Development Corporation, Chicago
Oak Park Regional Housing Center, Oak Park
Open Communities, Evanston
Partners in Community Building, Chicago
Respond Now, Chicago Heights
Restoration America, Crystal Lake
South Suburban Housing Center, Homewood
Total Resource Community Development Corporation, Chicago
Western Egyptian Economic Opportunity Council, Steeleville

AmeriCorps VISTA

We manage a network of AmeriCorps VISTA Members, who are placed at our member organizations across the state. VISTA Members work on a range of projects to fight poverty and end homelessness while building the capacity of their host organizations.
Our 27 full-year VISTA Members and 25 VISTA Summer Associates recruited and managed 964 volunteers and raised more than $560,000 in cash and in-kind donations for their host sites.

“Now that I am a year out of VISTA, I see a great deal of how this experience catapulted my career. It gave me the experience needed to become a good job candidate, and I am able to utilize skills learned at CCH (Chicago Coalition for the Homeless) in my current role.”
– Veronica Cullinan, AmeriCorps VISTA, 2017-2019

Revitalization Challenge

The Community Revitalization Challenge (CRC) is a multi-year initiative to connect community-based organizations to financial institutions to design and launch projects that increase access to affordable housing in Illinois. We launched the first round of the CRC in 2018. During the second year, participants reached the final stages of developing their proposals and began seeking funding for their projects. Seven have received a total of $200,000 in funding and are implementing their projects, and ten are finalizing their proposals.


We share information and real-life stories with policymakers, nonprofit service providers, and the media. We publish resources, research, and analysis related to affordable housing and homelessness, and have secured a significant increase in media coverage. By making issues easier to understand, changing narratives, and explaining solutions, we build momentum for legislative wins and support organizations working to advance affordable housing and end homelessness.

Storytelling for Change

To help residents of permanent supportive housing explore how they can tell their stories to make a difference, we facilitated a series of workshops in Mt. Vernon, Peoria, Rockford, Hillside, and Chicago in partnership with the Supportive Housing Providers Association. We also created a guide for supportive housing practitioners who are interested in helping facilitate storytelling workshops with their residents.

The stories of people who live in supportive housing can shed light on important issues, such as what it is like to experience homelessness or live with mental illness or a disability. Stories are an effective tool for change, helping people connect, understand different perspectives—and take action.

The Storytelling for Change workshops culminated in the publication of A Place to Call Home, which shares the experiences of Illinoisans who have been homeless in their own words.

Housing Justice + Racial Justice

Racial justice is foundational to our work at Housing Action Illinois. Expanding access to quality, affordable homes for everyone—in any community, regardless of race or ethnicity—is long overdue and an inextricable part of addressing systemic racism. As we explain our core issues, Housing Action Illinois aims to build awareness of the deep connections between racial justice, affordable housing, and ending homelessness. We are committed to advocating for policies and programs that advance equity.

Explore our issue breakdowns ⇒ 

Eviction in Illinois Policy Brief

Eviction is prevalent throughout Illinois. Our 2019 policy brief reviews statewide data from 2016 and finds that more than half (54 percent) of cases did not result in a negative determination, but the tenants still ended up with an eviction filing on the public record. This record is often a serious obstacle to finding a future home. Our brief suggests ways to address and prevent eviction throughout Illinois. 

Read the policy brief ⇒ 

Racial Disparity in Homelessness Policy Brief

Black Illinoisans are eight times more likely to experience homelessness than White Illinoisans. Even among those in poverty, Black Illinoisans are more likely to experience homelessness than White Illinoisans. Our 2019 policy brief examines racial disparities in homelessness throughout Illinois and provides policy recommendations for addressing them.

Read the policy brief ⇒ 

woman speaking on a panel


Each year, housing professionals from around Illinois come together for our annual Housing Matters! conference. This year, 246 participants from 145 different organizations gathered to join us for workshops on policy advocacy, ending homelessness, housing counseling, and housing development, as well as a Community Revitalization Challenge breakfast and office hours. Governor J.B. Pritzker welcomed our guests with a personal video message, and we closed out the conference with an inspiring keynote address from Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores.



Thank You to Our 2019 Funders & Conference Sponsors

Alphawood Foundation
Associated Bank
Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen
Bank of America
BlueHub Sun
BMO Harris Bank
Catholic Campaign for Human Dignity
Chicago Community Trust
Corporation for National & Community Service
Cuore e Mani
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
Field Foundation
Fifth Third Foundation
First Midwest Bank
Freddie Mac
Huntington Bank
Illinois Housing Development Authority
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Midland States Bank
Pierce Family Foundation
Polk Bros. Foundation
Second Federal
State Farm Bank®
U.S. Bank Foundation
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
Wells Fargo
Woods Fund Chicago


Housing Action Illinois has more than 160 members, including nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations, all committed to protecting and expanding the availability of quality, affordable housing.

Access Living, Chicago
Affordable Housing Corporation of Lake County, Libertyville
All Chicago Making Homelessness History
Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, Hillside
Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, Chicago
Architreasures, Chicago
Assisted Housing Risk Management Assessment (AHRMA), Rantoul
Association for Individual Development, Elgin
BCMW Community Services, Centralia
Bethany Village Family Crisis Resource Center, Anna
Breakthrough Joliet, Romeoville
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet, Downers Grove
CDBG Operations Corporation, East St. Louis
C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation, Effingham
Center for Changing Lives, Chicago
Center for Disability and Elder Law, Chicago
Centro Romero, Chicago
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission
Champaign-Urbana Tenant Union
Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Chicago Community Loan Fund
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.
Chicago Rehab Network
Chicago Urban League
Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity
Chinese American Service League, Chicago
Cinnaire, Madison
City of Evanston
City of Rockford
Claretian Associates, Chicago
Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA), Chicago
Community Contacts, Inc., Elgin
Community Investment Corporation of Decatur
Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Highland Park
Community Service Council of Northern Will County, Bolingbrook
Connections for the Homeless, Evanston
Connections of Illinois, Palatine
Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Northern Illinois, Woodstock
Cornerstone Associates LLC, Omaha
CSH, Chicago
Disability Resource Center, Joliet
Dove, Inc., Decatur
DuPage Habitat for Humanity, Wheaton
DuPage PADS, Wheaton
East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, Danville
Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH), Rock Island
Edgewater Village, Chicago
Embarras River Basin Agency, Greenup
Enabled Path, Inc., Wheeling
Erie Neighborhood House, Chicago
Everlasting Word Church, Aurora
Facing Forward to End Homelessness, Chicago
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
Ford Heights Community Service Organization
Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity, Montgomery
Full Circle Communities, Inc., Chicago
Garfield Park Community Council, Chicago
Genesis Housing Development Corporation, Chicago
Grass Roots Organizing Works, Rock Island
Greater Southwest Development Corporation, Chicago
Grundy Area PADS, Morris
Habitat for Humanity Chicago
Habitat for Humanity Chicago South Suburbs
Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County & Restore
Habitat for Humanity of Illinois, Oswego
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley, Elgin
Heartland Housing, Inc., Chicago
Hesed House, Aurora
HomeStart, Rockford
HOPE of East Central Illinois, Charleston
HOPE Fair Housing Center, Wheaton
Hope Haven of DeKalb
Hope Network, Grand Rapids
Housing Authority of Champaign County
Housing Authority of Cook County, Chicago
Housing Choice Partners of Chicago
Housing Forward, Maywood
Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.), Chicago
Housing Task Force, Arlington Heights
H.O.M.E DuPage, Wheaton
Housing Opportunities for Women, Chicago
Housing Plus NFP, Chicago
IFF, Chicago
Illinois Community Action Development Corporation, Springfield
Illinois Housing Council (IHC), Chicago
Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living, LaSalle
IMPACT Center for Independent Living, Alton
Inland Home Mortgage, Villa Park
Interfaith Leadership Project of Cicero, Berwyn & Stickney
John Marshall Law School, Chicago
Joining Forces for Affordable Housing, Evanston
Joseph Corporation, Aurora
Justine Petersen, Granite City
Kankakee County Housing Authority
Lake County Coalition for The Homeless, Gurnee
Lake County Community Development Division, Libertyville
Lake County Housing Authority, Grayslake
Lake County Residential Development Corporation, Gurnee
Latino Policy Forum, Chicago
Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), Chicago
Lawson House Tenants Association, Chicago
Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Chicago
LIFE Center for Independent Living, Bloomington
Lifebuilders Ministry, Inc., Glenwood
Madison County Community Development, Edwardsville
Manufactured Home Owners Association of Illinois, Des Plaines
Matthew House, Chicago
METEC Resource Center, Peoria
Mid Central Community Action, Bloomington
Midland States Bank, Chesterfield
Mortgage Education Foundation, Palos Heights
Navicore Solutions, Manalapan
Neighborhood Housing Service (NHS) of Chicago
Neumann Family Services, Chicago
New Community Vision, Chicago
North Side Community Federal Credit Union, Chicago
North West Housing Partnership, Schaumburg
Northside Community Development Corporation, Chicago
Northwest Compass, Inc., Mount Prospect
Northwest Side Housing Center, Chicago
Oak Park Regional Housing Center
Open Communities, Evanston
Over The Rainbow, Evanston
PADS Lake County, North Chicago
PADS of Elgin
Partners In Community Building, Chicago
People’s Resource Center, Wheaton
Peoria Housing Authority
Peoria Opportunities Foundation
Plante Moran, Chicago
Prairie State Legal Services, Waukegan
Preservation of Affordable Housing, Chicago
Progress Center for Independent Living, Forest Park
Project IRENE, Wilmette
Promethean Solar, Chicago
Resources for Community Living, Rolling Meadows
Respond Now, Chicago Heights
Restoration America, Inc., Crystal Lake
Rockford Housing Authority
Sarah’s Circle, Chicago
Second Federal (A Division of Self-Help FCU), Chicago
Shawnee Development Council, Karnak
South Suburban Housing Center, Homewood
South Suburban PADS, Chicago Heights
Southwestern Illinois Development Authority, Collinsville
Spanish Coalition for Housing, Chicago
Springfield Housing Authority
Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, Springfield
Supportive Housing Providers Association (SHPA), Springfield
Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Springfield
The Harbour, Inc., Park Ridge
The Michaels Development Co., L.P., Chicago
The Resurrection Project, Chicago
Together We Cope, Tinley Park
Tri-County Opportunities Council, Rock Falls
Turnstone Development, Chicago
University of Illinois Department of Family Medicine, Chicago
Urban Action Network/Quality Housing Coalition, Springfield
Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Volunteers of America, Chicago
Western Egyptian Economic Opportunity Council, Inc., Steeleville
Will County Center for Community Concerns, Joliet
ZION Development Corporation, Rockford



Sharon Legenza, Executive Director
David Young, Director of Capacity Building
Wanda Collins, Capacity Building Specialist
Bibian Cristino, Capacity Building Specialist
Jennifer Pallas, Capacity Building Specialist
Bob Palmer, Policy Director
Gianna Baker, Outreach Manager
Willie Heineke, National Service Program Manager
Brandon Grigsby, National Service Program Associate
Steven Johnson, National Service Program Associate
Erana Jackson, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
Kristin Ginger, Communications Manager
Amina Farha, Membership & Development VISTA

Board of Directors

Bob Campbell, Zion Development Corporation, Rockford
Niccole Clements, PNC, Springfield—Secretary
Sheila Dodd, City of Urbana, Urbana—Co-Chair
Kelli Harsch, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, P.C., Chicago
Joyce Hothan, Glen Ellyn
Dottie Johnson, Chicago Commons, Chicago
Kurt Kuyawa, Citizens Bank NA, Chicago—Treasurer
Jackie Newman, Springfield Housing Authority, Springfield
David Noble, Midland States Bank, Effingham
Shelly Richardson, The Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, Springfield
Mary Lu Seidel, Preservation Chicago, Chicago—Co-Chair
Darsonya Switzer, Dove Inc., Decatur
Mary Ellen Tamasy, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Libertyville
Carl Wolf, Respond Now, Chicago
Margaret Wooten, Chicago Urban League, Chicago


Revenue: $2,660,594

Government Grants: $1,973,296
Foundation Grants: $200,526
Corporate Contributions: $156,200
Other: $289,807
Membership Dues: $40,765

Expenses: $2,641,418

Programs: $2,532,936
       ⇒ Subgrants/Stipends: $1,498,271
Fundraising: $29,926
Management and General: $78,556

Total Assets: $1,303,042

Current Liabilities: $629,086
Total Net Assets: $673,956

59% of our program funds were given to other organizations as subgrants.