NLIHC state coalition partner Housing Action Illinois is celebrating the impact of its multi-year campaign to secure funding for affordable housing development in the state’s capital budget, which successfully concluded in 2009 (see Memo, 8/21/09). In that campaign a coalition of advocates won $130 million for affordable rental housing. The state will use the funds to initiate its Permanent Supportive Housing Development Program, which is targeted for extremely low income (ELI) households. This is the first funding for affordable housing ever to be provided in Illinois’ capital budget.
Last month, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for developers to participate in the program. All projects must target a minimum of 10% of units to ELI households and priority will be given to projects that exceed this minimum. Capital budget funding will be combined with other funding sources, such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the HOME program, to finance the projects.
The funding will provide much-needed housing in Illinois, and will also help the state settle three lawsuits accusing it of “warehousing” people with disabilities in nursing homes and other institutions and not providing sufficient options for community-based housing. As of 2008, the total institutional population in Illinois was more than double the national average. Disability advocates argue that Illinois’ failure to offer supportive housing alternatives to institutional care violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1999 Olmstead decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that unjustified institutionalization of people with disabilities is discriminatory.
IHDA is looking to the majority of the capital budget funding to help remedy this long-standing problem. A portion of the funding, however, will likely be directed toward development of housing for more traditional ELI households, such as people at risk of homelessness.
The first $17.5 million of the $130 million was obligated in the fall of 2010 to six projects serving people moving out of institutions. All of those projects should close on their construction financing in the coming weeks.
“We’re very pleased that the IHDA has released the RFP,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director at Housing Action Illinois. “But we know that a lot of work still remains. We are continuing to organize to make sure the money becomes available. Bonds to fund the capital budget still need to be sold, and the Governor’s office still needs to prioritize committing the funds among the more traditional infrastructure projects funded through the capital budget.” Housing Action Illinois met with staff from the office of Governor Pat Quinn (D) earlier this summer regarding these issues. “We need roads repaved, but considering the economic hard times creating affordable housing should be a greater priority.”
Advocates will use the RFP process as a tool to demonstrate the great demand for the capital budget funds. “We are hoping that the level of response to the RFP will underscore the volume of projects that need funding,” Palmer said. “Funding is needed at the federal level as well. Capitalizing the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) is crucial, and Illinois’ efforts demonstrate one way funding for the NHTF could effectively be used to provide housing, create jobs and promote economic growth.”