From the Field: Housing Action Illinois Celebrates 30 Years with Statewide Tour of Housing and Advocacy Groups

Housing Action Illinois, an NLIHC state partner, turns 30 this year. In commemoration of three decades of outstanding organizing and advocacy for affordable housing, staff from Housing Action Illinois recently embarked on the 30th Anniversary Caravan—a tour of member agencies throughout the state that included site visits, meetings with legislators, and discussions with residents who rely on essential housing services. The Caravan tour will continue throughout the month of August with an intention of making 25 stops throughout the state.

A primary focus of the Caravan has been connecting with local advocates and learning about the challenges their communities are facing. At various Caravan stops, Housing Action Illinois staff are seeing the negative impact of the years-long budget impasse between the state legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner (R). Due to insufficient state funding, shelter providers, housing counseling agencies, and community action agencies have had to lay off staff or reduce services. Now that the state has produced a budget, many agencies are still waiting to be paid for essential services they have already provided.

An additional concern raised throughout the Caravan has been the lack of funding for affordable housing development. Agencies working on behalf of people with disabilities have commented on the increasing prevalence of individuals being forced to live in nursing homes due to the lack of affordable housing options that would enable them to live independently in the community. The Caravan’s launch coincided with celebrations of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the tour has included numerous discussions about the importance and cost effectiveness of building new housing with accessibility features.

Other Caravan stops have highlighted the enormous positive impact of federal community development resources like the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which President Trump has proposed eliminating and the House of Representatives has threatened to cut. Declining federal funding for essential housing programs has been an obstacle discussed frequently throughout Illinois. As part of the movement to increase resources for HUD programs, the Caravan was one of more than 60 local events to take place throughout the country as part of the Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action, July 22-29.  

“The 30th Anniversary Caravan has been an invigorating opportunity to connect with Housing Action Illinois members throughout the state and see first-hand the impact of their work,” said Sharon Legenza, executive director at Housing Action Illinois. “These visits are also a sobering call to action when we see so much unmet need for low income households. It is clear that we urgently need greater political will and leadership at both the state and federal levels if we are going to end the shortage of affordable homes.”

For more information about the 30th Anniversary Caravan, contact Kristin Ginger, communications manager at Housing Action Illinois, at: kristin@housingactionil.org

Read more about the stops along the 30th Anniversary Caravan at: http://bit.ly/2fywYc6