December 2020 Newsletter: In Memoriam | Silver Linings | Policy Focus | End of Year Giving | Housing Counselor Dispatch | Member Spotlight | Learning & Networking | What We're Sharing | Jobs


In Memoriam

We are deeply appreciative for the work and dedication of longtime housing professionals Rob Schroeder and Bill Pluta, who both passed away this October. Rob worked at Western Egyptian Economic Opportunity Council for 44 years, primarily as a housing counselor, and Bill Pluta spent many years at the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their colleagues and families.


2020 Silver Linings 

2020 has been a difficult year. As we work to meet these challenges and build a better future for everyone, we are taking a moment to reflect and honor the resilience of individuals and communities throughout Illinois. We are inspired by the ways in which Illinoisans have come together to meet urgent needs, and we are grateful to our members, partners, and funders for your hard work and support in the midst of constant change and uncertainty. We want to share the bright spots that have carried us through the past 12 months, and we invite you to join us in finding silver linings from 2020 »

2020 Silver Linings

Policy Focus

Additional Protections for Tenants in Revised IL Eviction Moratorium

We are thankful that Governor Pritzker has extended the eviction moratorium in Illinois through January 9 in order to protect the public health during the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. The newly reissued executive order makes some important improvements to the moratorium that we and others advocated for. These changes better protect tenants and provide greater clarity regarding implementation for tenants, landlords, and the courts. 

A key change: At least 5 days before providing a tenant with an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, a property owner must provide the tenant with a blank declaration form (and explanatory cover sheet), which the tenant needs to complete and return to protect themselves from eviction. In addition, tenants who are current on rent are protected from eviction, without having to provide any signed declaration, unless there is direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants or an immediate and severe risk to property. For more information, visit the Illinois Housing Development Authority website »

We are still working with partners to advocate for emergency eviction protections that will prohibit landlords from filing evictions if they accept partial rent payments from their tenants; expand opportunities to seal eviction records; and automatically seal eviction cases filed during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery period. Learn more and join us »

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge Nominated as HUD Secretary

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Congresswoman Fudge has served in the House since 2008; prior to being elected to Congress, she was mayor of Warrensville Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. Congresswoman Fudge will lead HUD during a time of extraordinary challenges and hardship for our nation’s lowest-income renters and people experiencing homelessness. Read the National Low Income Housing Coalition statement on the nomination, which lays out key priorities for Congresswoman Fudge if she is to repair the significant harm done by the current administration and restore HUD to being, once again, an agency whose work and rhetoric advances its essential mission of creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. 

Marcia Fudge 116th Congress member portrait

Vote on Renter Rights in Cook County Delayed

Instead of going to a vote this week, we now expect the Cook County Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) to go to a vote in January. This will provide County Commissioners more time to review very recent amendments to the ordinance language that have resulted from negotiations with groups representing rental property owners. We appreciate everyone who has emailed their commissioner and/or submitted written testimony in support of the ordinance already. For those who have not, you have more time to speak up in support of renter protections! For thirty years, renters living in Chicago, Evanston, and Mount Prospect have benefited from municipal tenant-landlord ordinances. Now, the RTLO will expand similar protections to more than 245,000 renter households in suburban Cook County. The ordinance creates safeguards against illegal lockouts, protections against leases eliminating basic rights to termination notices, and procedures for withholding rent until building problems are addressed. If you live in Cook County, message your commissioner in support of the RTLO today »

Vote Nears on $25 Billion in Federal COVID-19 Rent Assistance

Housing Action Illinois has joined allies in demanding that Congress pass a $748 billion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $25 billion in emergency rent assistance, in the coming days. As we and others have stated for months, rent assistance is desperately needed, as so many families have lost income during the pandemic. Households that were already struggling are being pushed deeper into poverty. Rent assistance payments benefit both renters and rental property owners who are struggling to pay their bills, while providing a stimulus for the entire economy, as both renters and owners will have more resources to spend on other basic human needs. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to immediately enact this bipartisan, emergency coronavirus relief bill and then return in January to work on a broader, more comprehensive relief package.

As part of the negotiations to get the Senate to move forward on a relief package, provisions for $160 billion in assistance for state and local governments are being put into a bill with COVID-19 liability shield provisions—which primarily benefit employers. Illinois and many local governments, including Chicago, are experiencing significant revenue losses due to the pandemic; we do not support tying assistance to politically divisive litigation restrictions. On December 15, Governor Pritzker announced more than $700 million in spending reductions for the current fiscal year, including budget cuts in the areas of healthcare/human services, public safety, economic development and environmental protection.


Support Affordable Housing

The challenges of 2020 have shown us the strength, resilience, and dedication of our community. We still have our work cut out for us in 2021—but with your help, we can continue working to build an Illinois where everyone has a good, affordable place to call home. 

We hope you’ll consider supporting our work today by making a contribution or becoming a monthly donor.

Support Housing Action Illinois This Holiday Season. Donate Today.

Housing Counselor Dispatch

IHDA Releases Two New Mortgage Programs 

SmartBuy can help individuals who have student loan debt purchase a home today. The program can provide either $5,000 in down payment assistance or student loan relief for up $40,000 or 15% of the cost of the home (whichever is less).

Opening Doors can help people with up to $6,000 toward the down payment or closing costs of buying a home. You do not need to be a first-time homebuyer to be eligible. 

Study for the HUD Exam With Us in January

Still need to pass the HUD certification exam? We can help. This January 19–21, Housing Action Illinois is back with another online study group series, and we’ve redesigned the training to be more interactive and adapt to the needs of each group of counselors joining the series. Learn more and register »


Apna Ghar: Home, Gender-Based Violence, and the "Perfect Storm" of a Pandemic

When Apna Ghar was founded more than 30 years ago, the organization staffed a 24/7 crisis line and operated an emergency shelter for women and children. They have grown immensely over the years, though they have not strayed from their mission of supporting people experiencing gender-based violence, with a focus on immigrant and refugee communities.

Learn more »

Two people talking in a kitchen

Apna Ghar staff members in the kitchen of a safe house, built with support from Design for Dignity.


Expand Your Capacity: Host an AmeriCorps Member

Housing Action Illinois places and supports a network of AmeriCorps Members throughout Illinois. These committed service members help build organizational capacity and expand programming to end homelessness, protect affordable housing, and end poverty. They can recruit volunteers, run fundraising campaigns, develop workshops to educate first-time homeowners, and more. AmeriCorps Summer Associates can also engage in direct service such as academic tutoring or building a home. Learn more about our network »

Housing Action is now accepting applications from organizations interested in hosting an AmeriCorps Member for the year or over the summer. Submit by 5 pm CST on January 29 to be considered.

Request an application »

AmeriCorps Logo in red

Learning & Networking

Note: All event postings are from Housing Action, our members, funders, and organizations to which we belong. See our full trainings & events calendar. Have something coming up that we should list? Let us know!

Hosted by the Urban Institute and Enterprise Community Partners
Applying an Equitable Framework for Housing Policy Response during COVID-19 and Beyond, 12/17: Register

Hosted by the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing
Eviction Filings, Unemployment, and the Impact of COVID-19, 12/17: Register

Member Coffee Hour with Sharon Legenza, 12/17: RSVP to Amina Farha

Banks, Communities, & the CRA: How Did We Get Here?, 1/12: Register

Housing Action Hot Cocoa Social, 1/13: Register

Banks, Communities, & the CRA: Speak Up for a Better Tomorrow, 1/19: Register

Online Study Group for the HUD Exam: Version 3.0, 1/19–1/21: Register


What We're Sharing

The Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services is requesting applications from community-based organizations that serve minority populations for up to $100,000 in funding to provide culturally appropriate COVID-19 prevention and response strategies. Applications due 1/8/2021. (funding opportunity)

Cook County Legal Aid's Early Resolution Program offers free legal help to eligible Cook County residents with eviction issues, unresolved debt, or late mortgage or property tax payments. Residents can call 855-956-5763 to speak with a lawyer, find out whether they are eligible for the program, and get connected to other resources. (resource)

All Chicago and the City of Chicago are calling on landlords and property owners to participate in the Chicago Rents program by providing available rental units to support fellow Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. The program offers landlords designated funds for rental subsidies, unexpected costs, and compensation to hold units while they are connected to eligible participants. (housing initiative)

The National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona have released a research report on the public costs of eviction-related homelessness that the U.S. will incur if emergency rental assistance is not provided. (report)

Letters: Protecting all Cook County rentersChicago Tribune, 12/4. (article)

"We must take every opportunity to address housing insecurity in our communities, especially one as common-sense  as extending protections that exist for many residents of Cook County to all residents of Cook County."

—Sheila Sutton, Housing Policy Organizer 

With the pandemic posing a mass eviction threat, here’s what 11 housing experts say a Biden administration can do to help, Chicago Tribune, 12/3. (article)

COVID-19 Resources Related to Housing & Homelessness: Housing Action continues to compile COVID-19 information and resources. (resource)


Who's Hiring

Note: All job postings are from Housing Action Illinois, our members, funders, and organizations to which we belong. Have an opportunity we should list? Let us know.

Apna Ghar, Housing Case Manager

All Chicago, Various Positions

Center for Changing Lives, Communications Intern & Development Associate 

Chinese American Service League, Various Positions

Connections for the Homeless, Various Positions

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Coordinated Entry System Navigation Support

Housing Forward, Various Positions

Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly, Grants Manager & Housing Support Specialist

Housing Opportunities for Women, Housing Specialist

IFF, Various Positions


Housing Action Illinois staff will be working remotely until further notice. Our team of dedicated, passionate staff members continue to support housing nonprofits and homeless service providers and advocate for Illinoisans facing housing instability during this difficult time. Please consider joining us in our efforts by supporting our work.


Housing Action Illinois
67 E. Madison Street, Suite 1603 | Chicago, Illinois 60603
312-939-6074 |


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