March 2021 Newsletter: Annual Benefit | Rental Assistance | Policy Focus | Housing Counselor Dispatch | Member Spotlight | AmeriCorps | Learning & Networking | What We're Sharing | Jobs

Join us for a Toast to Housing Justice

Our 5th Annual Toast to Housing Justice launches on Monday, March 22, and will run through April 2. We have lots of ways you can join us and support our mission! First up:

Join Our Cooking Class with Chef Chuy Valencia
As part of our benefit, we're holding a virtual cooking class with Chef Chuy Valencia, who worked under famed chef Rick Bayless before opening his own restaurant in Chicago, the success of which led him to a stint on Bravo TV's Top Chef Season 9. Join us on Thursday, April 1 at 5:00 pm CST to follow along as Chuy shows how to craft a cauliflower ceviche tostada and pan-seared salmon with homemade salsa verde.

Stay tuned for more: Starting on Monday, you'll also be able to snag benefit offerings and housing justice t-shirts. Watch for more information or get a head start by donating today »

5th Annual Toast to Housing Justice

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs Opening in Illinois

The State of Illinois and local governments are finalizing programs to provide emergency assistance to renters and rental property owners using funds from the December 2020 federal COVID-19 relief package. A total of $834.7 million in assistance will be available throughout Illinois. Two programs (Madison County and suburban Cook County) are currently open for applications, and we expect the others to open during April and May.

Learn more and get links to open programs »

piggy bank, keys, checkbook, and calculator

Policy Focus

American Rescue Plan Includes $50 Billion for Housing & Homelessness
On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The COVID-19 relief package includes almost $50 billion in essential housing and homelessness assistance, including:

  • More than $27 billion for rental assistance
  • $10 billion for homeowner assistance
  • $5 billion for homelessness assistance
  • $4.5 billion for utility assistance
  • $100 million for housing counseling
  • $20 million for fair housing activities

We are still determining what resources will be available to assist people and communities in Illinois and will share more details in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all members of Congress who supported passage of this package, which will prevent millions of people from losing their homes and provide resources to help people experiencing homelessness secure and maintain housing during and after the pandemic.

Two arrow trail signs pointing in opposite directions

Support the Illinois COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented economic instability for renters and homeowners across Illinois. In these uncertain times, no one should fear losing their home, and we must take action to address the long-term fallout of the pandemic on our housing ecosystem. We have the opportunity to pass an emergency state law—championed by State Representative Delia Ramirez, State Senator Omar Aquino, and others—that will expand access to sealing eviction records (having an eviction filing on public record can be a serious obstacle to finding housing in the future) and temporarily halt certain foreclosure proceedings. The first votes on the bill will happen before the end of March.

Tell your legislator to vote yes »

Two arrow trail signs pointing in opposite directions

Illinois Eviction Moratorium Extended & Improved

Governor Pritzker has extended the state eviction moratorium through April 3. The most recent executive order makes an important clarification that we and others requested—that renters are protected from eviction as long as they submit their declaration form, even if they submit the form after their landlord began legal action to evict them. Tenants who cannot pay their rent must submit a Tenant Declaration Form, available in a number of languages here.


Two arrow trail signs pointing in opposite directions

Housing Counselor Dispatch

Let's Get Certified
Illinois is in the top 5 states for certification progress: 81% of our housing counseling agencies have counselors who have passed the HUD certification exam, compared to 75% nationwide.

Still need to take and pass the HUD Certification Exam? We've redesigned and restructured our online study group to be more interactive and adapt to the needs of each cohort. Join us this April 27–29!

Register for Online Study Group for the HUD Exam: Version 3.0 »


Member Spotlight: Phoenix CDS

I think what makes us unique as a housing provider is that we are also a licensed mental health agency,” says Christine Kahl, CEO of Phoenix Community Development Services. As a supportive housing provider, Phoenix doesn't only manage housing; they provide "everything from trained mental health support, to substance abuse interventions, to case management, to food assistance.” Learn how the organization has dealt with the challenges of COVID-19, why they're excited to send a vehicle named HOWIE out into the field, and what new initiatives they're looking forward to in 2021.

Read our member spotlight on Phoenix CDS »

Adult and Child sitting in a sunny garden

Phoenix CDS plans to expand their community garden


AmeriCorps Updates

$1 Billion for National Service in American Rescue Plan
The new COVID-19 relief package includes $1 billion in supplemental funding for AmeriCorps and its programs, including $80 million for AmeriCorps VISTA. This will help expand national service programs to aid COVID-19 response and recovery, strengthen diversity and equity, and increase members' living allowances, making service more accessible and inclusive.

Being Part of the Solution
"I began to think about the impact that COVID-19 was going to have on communities of color,” Fabian said. “I wanted to be part of the solution.” With this in mind, he joined Northwest Side Community Development Corporation as their Program and Research AmeriCorps Member.

Read about Fabian's experience and his advice to anyone considering an AmeriCorps year »

Portrait of Fabian Smiling

Fabian Cisneros, current AmeriCorps VISTA Member


Housing Action Honored for Business Excellence

Housing Action has been selected as a 2021 Honoree for the Daily Herald Business Ledger’s Annual Awards for Business Excellence, which recognize businesses and organizations that impact communities in suburban Cook County and several of the Collar Counties.

Our thanks to Signature Bank for nominating us for this honor.

Annual Awards for Business Excellence

Learning and 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 Northern Illinois University's Center for Nonprofit Excellence; panelists include Housing Action members & staff
Eviction Moratorium: Local Impact, Advocacy, and Resources in Winnebago County, 3/18: Register

Helping Homeowners Seeking Loan Modifications, 3/25: Register

Hosted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition
Virtual Housing Policy Forum 2021: A New Day, 3/30–3/31: Register

Hosted by the Supportive Housing Providers Association
Virtual Spring Conference & Advocacy Day, 4/7–4/8: Register

Designing Better Forms, 4/8: Register

Member Coffee Hour, 4/15: RSVP to Amina Farha

Online Study Group for the HUD Exam 3.0, 4/27–4/29: Register


What We're Sharing

Housing dilemma: Lawmakers prepare to help families facing eviction, WGEM News, 3/3/21 (article)

The AARP Community Challenge grant program supports quick-action projects that help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Deadline 4/14/21. (funding)

The Woods Fund's Rapid Response Fund provides emergency funds to current Chicago grantee partners experiencing unexpected needs and opportunities to support community organizing and public policy advocacy. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. (funding)

Homelessness on the decline prior to COVID-19, but challenges remain, a new Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning policy brief on homelessness in Chicagoland, analyzes recent data and proposes solutions. (resource)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lists COVID-19 resources for struggling renters and homeowners and has released a new report on Housing Insecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic. (resource)

The Trump Administration's 2019 public charge rule is no longer in effect. Protecting Immigrant Families - Illinois has English & Spanish fact sheets on the prior 1999 guidance, which is now back in effect, and is offering free Public Charge training webinars. (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.


Housing Action Illinois is seeking someone who has served at least one term as an AmeriCorps VISTA for our National Service Program Associate position. Learn more and apply by March 28 »


Access Living, Manager of Organizing and Community Development

Apna Ghar, Counselor & Legal Advocate

Center for Changing Lives, Bilingual Employment CoachDevelopment Associate

Chicago Community Loan Fund, Senior Loan Program Officer & Policy and Government Relations Coordinator

Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Senior Counsel - Education Equity

Chinese American Service League, Communication Officer & Governmental Affairs & Advocacy Officer

Connections for the Homeless, Development Operations Coordinator & Homeless Prevention Specialist

DuPagePads, Case Manager - Housing Assistance Programs

Facing Forward to End Homelessness, Housing Navigator & Rapid Rehousing Case Manager

Hesed House, Overnight Emergency Shelter Staff

IFF, Senior Lender - Affordable Housing & Marketing Manager

IHDA, Special Advisor on Equity & Inclusion

Illinois Housing Council, 2021 Summer Affordable Housing Internship

Justine PETERSEN, Accounting Manager

Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing, Housing/Community Engagement Attorney (bilingual)

LUCHA, Director of Programs & Outreach and Engagement Specialist

Mid Central Community Action, Employment/Financial Coach

Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, Director of Operations

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, Staff Attorney - Housing Law Practice

People's Resource Center, Manager of Marketing and Communications

Phoenix CDS, Community Support Counselor & Residential Service Associate

Renaissance Social Services, Inc., Housing Liaison & Residential Case Manager

Thresholds, Public Policy Associate & Certified Housing Specialist


Your support makes a difference. Let's build an Illinois where everyone has a good, affordable place to call home.


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



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