March 2020 Newsletter: COVID-19 Information & Resources | Policy Focus | Census 2020 | Housing Counselor Dispatch | What We're Sharing | Learning & Networking | Jobs
To reduce the risk of exposure for our staff, visitors, families, and communities, all Housing Action Illinois staff will be working remotely until March 30 and possibly beyond. We will still be available during normal work hours via email and phone, and we will continue our work to support our members during this challenging time.
COVID-19 Information & Resources for Housing Professionals
We are monitoring the COVID-19 public health emergency closely and have been compiling information and resources which may help those working in homelessness and affordable housing in Illinois. Please reach out to let us know if you have related questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Our annual Toast to Housing Justice, originally scheduled for March 31, has been canceled due to COVID-19. The health, safety, and well-being of our supporters and staff is our first priority during this unprecedented health emergency. Because this is our only fundraising event, we ask that supporters consider their ticket purchase a donation. However, if you would like a partial or full refund, please email us.
With so many unknowns about the lasting effects of this pandemic, any support will bolster Housing Action Illinois and better position us to advocate for vulnerable populations, such as people experiencing homelessness and low-income renters and homeowners, who will be disproportionately affected by this crisis. We deeply appreciate the generosity of anyone able to make a donation at this time.
Shifting Our Advocacy Focus to Respond to COVID-19
The Illinois General Assembly has canceled scheduled session days for the week of March 16 and has not yet announced when they will reconvene. Housing Action Illinois staff are keeping in contact with elected officials, state agencies, our members, allies, and others to share information and coordinate response strategies. We are continuing work on our 2020 advocacy agenda, but are reprioritizing to respond to the current crisis.
At the federal level, we are working most closely with the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) as their state partner in Illinois. On March 16, NLIHC led a virtual meeting on Coronavirus and Homelessness/Housing. Advocates from across the country presented information on how federal, state, and local governments are responding to the public health emergency and its impact on people experiencing homelessness and low-income households. The webinar recording and slides, as well as other resources, are available here.
Federal Response to COVID-19 Does Not Yet Include Funding for Housing & Homelessness
On March 16, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation with crucial emergency funding for a COVID-19 response, including spending to support paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, and free diagnostic testing for the coronavirus. There are a number of good things in the legislation, but many of the provisions do not go as far as they should. For example, the paid sick leave provisions only apply to about one-fifth of workers.
A critical shortfall: the bill does not include resources specifically for people experiencing homelessness, who are at a greater risk of a coronavirus outbreak. Alongside allies, Housing Action Illinois pushed for a proposal by the Senate Democrats that included significant housing support, including emergency rental assistance, eviction prevention, and resources for homeless service providers, among others.
As of the time this newsletter was written, the Republican-controlled Senate has not taken up the House bill. There seem to be efforts by the Senate majority and the Trump administration to perhaps combine the House bill with legislation providing funding intended to promote an economic stimulus. Alternatively, the two proposals may be voted on separately.
Call on Congress to Address Immediate Housing & Health Needs
Congress is working quickly to provide critical resources to help households impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and any package must provide funding for the urgent and unique needs of people experiencing homelessness and extremely low-income renters.
Call your senators and representatives TODAY to demand robust resources to help protect people experiencing homelessness and to allow low-income people to continue to keep roofs over their heads during and after this crisis.
Proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act could redirect billions of dollars in lending and investment away from low-income and minority communities. The comment deadline is April 8. Say No to Weakening the CRA »
There are only 36 available and affordable rental homes for every 100 extremely low income renters in Illinois, finds The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released by Housing Action and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Learn more »
Last month, to our deep disappointment, the Supreme Court lifted the public charge injunction in Illinois, and the public charge rule is now in effect in our state. However, USCIS will not consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care of COVID-19 in the public charge test, even if provided through one of the newly listed benefits (Federal Medicaid). Please take care of yourself and seek medical attention if necessary. Learn more »
You've Got Mail: 2020 Census
Invitations to participate in the 2020 Census should be arriving in mailboxes this week. Remember, you can respond to the questionnaire from the comfort of your own home! Fill it out online, by phone, or by mail. The census is critical for Illinois—it determines how many seats we get in Congress and affects billions of dollars in funding for housing, health care, education, and other vital services. We need to make sure everyone gets counted!
Staying home? We have some online learning opportunities that you can take advantage of without leaving.
Webinar: Property of Elderly and Deceased Mortgagors (3/26)
Do you have elderly clients? Do you know what happens to someone’s property after the mortgagor passes away? Join Housing Action Illinois and Legal Aid Chicago for a webinar on how to deal with the property of elderly and deceased mortgagors. During the presentation, you’ll learn about tools to plan for the death or incapacity of a mortgagor. We’ll discuss strategies for heirs to assume mortgage loans and keep the family home, transfer of property at death, joint tenancy vs. tenancy in common vs. tenancy by the entirety, the probate process generally, legal protections for heirs, and special issues relating to heirs of reverse mortgage borrowers.
Housing Action is back with another online study group series this April to help you gear up for the test in a supportive, peer-learning environment. Since each webinar focuses on a different section of the exam, you’ll get a deep dive into the key points of each module. The webinar series will share critical test information, quiz you on what you’ve learned, and answer your most pressing questions.
Sessions will run daily from April 6–10. You're welcome to join us for all five sessions or pick the topics you want to prioritize.
2020 AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund "quick-action" projects that help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Apply by 4/1.
ITC's Charitable Giving Program supports organizations in Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, and Rock Island counties that provide social services to those who suffer hardship or who have been unable to participate fully in the social and economic life of the community. Apply by 4/3.
Through J-Pal North America's Housing Stability Evaluation Incubator, organizations can apply for technical assistance and funding to design a rigorous evaluation of programs that reduce homelessness, prevent eviction, or promote housing stability. Submit LOI by 4/6.
Home Depot's Community Impact Grants awards Home Depot gift cards to nonprofits engaging volunteers to improve their communities. Awarded on a rolling basis through 12/31.
It's recruitment season for Housing Action Illinois' AmeriCorps VISTA network! We have full-year VISTA positions open for candidates who want to serve their community at one of our member organizations.