Saturday, October 8, 2011

Housing Action Illinois' October 2011 Newsletter

Housing Action Illinois' Housing Matters! Annual Conference & 25th Anniversary Celebration

It's not too late to take advantage of the Early Bird registration for the

Housing Matters! 25th Annual Conference & Celebration. Don't miss out on the state's largest gathering of affordable housing professionals and the opportunity to attend workshops on the latest housing issues and the chance to network with colleagues in the field!

Visit: to view schedule and register online.

State Budget Update

Once again, Illinois has seen a drastic cut in the budget. Fiscal year 2012 shows a 52% reduction for the Emergency and Transitional Housing program and a 38% reduction for the Homeless Prevention Program. Programs across the state are feeling the impact:

The City of Chicago terminated its overnight emergency services shift for the homeless and laid off 24 employees in the Department of Family and Support Services.

Helping Hands of Springfield has had to reduce their daytime hours and no longer offers showers and other services to people who do not have a bed at their shelter.

West Suburban PADS was forced to delay the annual opening for their shelter by two weeks.

The City of Chicago decided to stop accepting new clients into the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program, which will phase out within the next six to nine months.

During the upcoming fall veto session, Housing Action and our partners will work together to advocate for funding to be restored to the Homeless Prevention Program and Emergency and Transitional Housing program.

Federal Budget Update

Continuing Resolution is in effect until November 18 because once again, the beginning of a new federal fiscal year started on October 1 without the House and Senate coming to an agreement on a federal budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee both passed their own budgets for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Both bills cut HUD funding by more than 5% as required by the deficit reduction legislation passed earlier this year.

The proposed budget impacts a wide span of programs and people, including approximately 42,000 households who currently have Housing Choice Vouchers; if Tenant Based Rental Assistance Contract renewals are funded at the House level, these households could face homelessness. Other programs negatively impacted by the proposed budgets include the Public Housing Capital Fund, the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program and the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program.

A letter penned by the National Low Income Housing Coalition was sent to Congressional leaders urging them to increase the allocation for HUD programs in the final fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill on September 30.

You can read more about the budget crisis at, and don't forget to add yourself to the to stay in the know.

HUD Updates


In September, HUD issued two policy notice revisions to HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.

The first notice addresses the number of vouchers that a Public Housing Authority (PHA) can project base. Previously, HUD stated that it would approve PHAs that wished to project base their HUD-VASH vouchers on a case-by-case basis. With this revision, the number is no longer limited to half of the allocation, however the vouchers must be counted with project-based housing choice vouchers when determining that no more than 20% of the PHA’s voucher budget authority is project based. The notice also requires a PHA to document its ability to provide a HUD-VASH voucher to families that occupy project-based units but want to move.

The second notice revised operating and reporting requirements when households want to use their HUD-VASH voucher in a different geographic area. The revision ensures that the vouchers remain available to homeless veteran households upon turnover. It also directs PHAs that experience a funding shortfall and choose to recall or stop issuing vouchers to terminate HUD-VASH special purpose vouchers last, and should they resume issuing vouchers, to serve families of homeless veterans first.

More information can be found at


In the third quarter of 2010, Illinois ranked fourth in the nation among foreclosures, totaling 47,802 properties. In an effort to combat these outrageous numbers, the State Housing Task Force created the Foreclosure Working Group,which will receive administrative and financial support from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Representatives of this group range from government officials to non-profit directors, homeowners impacted by the foreclosure crisis to policy advocates, and academic professors to lending institutions. The Foreclosure Work Group has two primary focus areas: foreclosure impact and housing education and outreach. Specific duties include:

Monitor emerging housing problems and make recommendations.

Oversee actions to prevent foreclosures and mitigate their impact on local communities.

Oversee and provide insight about the rebuilding process caused by the housing crisis.

Provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to the rebuilding process.

Housing Action's Executive Director, Sharon Legenza was nominated to co-chair the task force. We'll be sure to keep you updated with the Foreclosure Working Group's success stories!


Between now and mid-November, we need to advocate for support for funding of housing counseling at $60 million, especially in the House. If you haven't already, please reach out to your House member to let them know about the impact of no funding for housing counseling on your agency and the clients you serve. If you have reports from any of your outreach, or if you want help doing outreach, please contact Bob Palmer, Housing Action's Policy Director at 312-939-6074 x. 206 or

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Our intention is to host a two-person panel to introduce CNT’s Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index and to discuss how it has been implemented to improve affordable housing decisions. We will present two case studies, one from our work The Housing Trust in Santa Fe, NM and one from our work with the Illinois Housing Development Authority, and discuss the lessons we have learned from these efforts. The case studies will form the basis of recommendations for how housing counselors, housing developers and public officials can use the H+T Index to improve affordable housing decision.

Housing Action will also host an end of the year peer-to-peer round up, tentatively slated for December. For more information on either of the events listed, please contact Erica Page Muhammad at 312-939-6074 x 108 or


From August 29 – 30, 2011, members of Housing Action Illinois’ Board of Directors and staff held a stakeholders meeting and visited organizations in the Southern Illinois Region as part of our sixth annual Caravan. Each stop included a discussion on local housing issues in Southern Illinois specific to rural agencies and potential solutions.

Almost 40 individuals representing nonprofits, government, and business came together to discuss the state of housing in their communities. Cynthia Struthers of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University presented on the impact of the US Census on Southern Illinois. While many issues were identified at the meeting’s open dialogue, issues revolving around mobile home owners and landlords not being held accountable for making imperative repairs were revisited the most during the discussion. Solutions brainstormed included increasing community education with municipal leaders, landlords, lenders, etc. and participation in the federal government’s Request for Information. The meeting concluded with a discussion on effective advocacy. Participants were encouraged to research their legislators beyond their party-affiliations, put a face on the people affected, bring clients to meet with legislators if possible and share cost-savings outcomes.

Says Mary Lu Seidel of Fox River Grove: "Participating in the Housing Action Illinois 2011 Caravan inspired my own work, and reinforced the value of HAIL's role in public policy, education and advocacy. Meeting with these extraordinary agents throughout the state brought home the value of what they do and how essential it is that a state-wide organization like HAIL is there to support it."

Our New Members

Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, Embarras River Basin Agency, Inc., and the Illinois Migrant Council.

VISTA Corner

On September 7th, VISTAs from the Illinois Affordable Housing Support Project came together for a “round-table” discussion about 9/11 (where we were when it happened, our thoughts and feelings on the day, our reflections on what the past 10 years have brought), and then spent some time discussing “VISTA stuff” such as specific projects, sites, sustainability, etc. Afterward, we headed to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and joined other organizations to volunteer for four hours gleaning pears. Altogether, 12,400 pounds of food was repackaged to be distributed to 650 agencies and our VISTA Team had a wonderful day of bonding and serving our community in a different way than usual!

To learn more about AmeriCorps*VISTA, please visit:

Work for Housing Action

The Director of Technical Assistance (TA) is responsible for the implementation, management, and evaluation of Housing Action’s Technical Assistance and Training program. As a member of the senior management team, the Director of TA participates in strategic planning and budgeting initiatives, and is responsible for working within the mission, policies, and guidelines of the organization to advance affordable housing in Illinois. The Director of TA staffs the Board of Director’s Housing Developers Committee and, as needed, the Housing Counseling Professionals Committee.

Deadline has been extended to October 14th. Please send cover letter, resume, writing sample, and three references via email to: with “Director of Technical Assistance” in the subject line. No phone calls please.

About Us

Housing Action Illinois is a statewide, non-profit, membership-based organization.

OUR MISSION: To increase and preserve the supply of decent, affordable, accessible housing in Illinois for low-and moderate-income households.

OUR VALUES: Housing is a human right. We believe in a society that promotes basic human needs such as decent and safe housing for all of its members. Public policy and government spending should ensure that the basic housing needs of all people are met.

OUR VISION: To create an environment where all Illinois residents, including people with the lowest incomes, have a voice in housing policy and community development. We seek to bring together community stakeholders such as residents, businesses, and government to work together to increase the supply and availability of affordable housing across the state.

OUR MEMBERS: Nonprofit organizations, individuals and corporations throughout the state, who care about and believe in the importance of decent, affordable, accessible housing for all our residents.

Stay Connected

The Housing Action Illinois E-newsletter is distributed every other month, and includes affordable housing news, upcoming events, tips for housing developers and counselors, and legislative updates.

Signing up for Housing Counseling Training and Technical Assistance Notices will help keep you informed of all Housing Action Illinois-sponsored trainings and technical assistance opportunities.

Housing Developer Training and Technical Assistance Notices will keep you up to date on all trainings and information that you need as an affordable housing developer.

Public Policy Advocacy Updates and Alerts summarize the latest news on housing and homelessness at the state and federal levels and provide opportunities to take action

For More Information


Phone: 312-939-6074


©2011 Housing Action Illinois

11 E. Adams St. Suite 1601

Chicago, IL 60603