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Win-Win: Equipping Housing Providers to Open Doors to Housing for People With Criminal Records

July 12, 2019

In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults, 50% of the population, are estimated to have an arrest or conviction record. Housing is foundational for employment success, family stability, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, criminal history checks are a typical part of the housing application processes, and many people with records are declined housing opportunities they would otherwise be a good fit for, but for the criminal record.  Our goal for Win-Win was to develop user-friendly guidance about the use of criminal records in screening and housing applicants, and to provide recommendations that housing providers can adopt and adapt, in whole or in part, to increase housing opportunities for people with criminal records.  

Big Shoulders, Bold Solutions; Economic Security for Chicagoans

February 1, 2019

Chicago is in so many ways a thriving global city. But far too many of us face the daily reality of financialinsecurity caused by jobs that don't pay enough to live on, that have unstable hours, and that don't providebenefits that many in the workforce a generation ago enjoyed. Both as a city and as a people, economicresilience in the face of change is critical to create a thriving metropolis, yet strong forces are pushing us awayfrom this, not towards it: deep racial and gender inequity; steadily widening income inequality; the erosion ofthe middle class; the rise in contingent work and looming automation of jobs. The result? Work is unreliableand income is precarious for those living in deep poverty and all the way up into the middle class.In response to these realities, last summer the Chicago City Council passed a resolution to create the ChicagoResilient Families Initiative Task Force to assess and determine the scope of a guaranteed income pilot aswell as solutions to modernize the Earned Income Tax Credit. Since then, at the behest of Mayor Emanuel,the task force has met, learned, dug deep and explored different paths to economic security and resiliencyfor Chicagoans. We sought advice from community residents and national experts who have been engageddeeply in these questions for years

The 2018 Illinois Poverty Update

April 19, 2018

Heartland Alliance's Illinois Poverty Update indicates that millions of people in Illinois are experiencing poverty or are on the cusp. Rooted in inequity, poverty prevents people from meeting basic needs, improving their quality of life, and creates barriers to opportunities including quality education, stable employment, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. The update sheds light on who is most likely to experience poverty in Illinois: Women, people of color, and children have the highest poverty rates.In addition to the Illinois Poverty Update, Heartland Alliance also released state legislative district poverty fact sheets.These releases are the first of a series Heartland Alliance is publishing on poverty in Illinois this year. Local- and county-level data books will be published this summer, and an in-depth exploration of the forces that contribute to gender-based poverty inequity will be released in the fall. 

Cycle of Risk: The Intersection of Poverty, Violence, and Trauma

March 15, 2017

Chicago is currently facing a devastating surge in lethal violence in addition to staggering rates of poverty across Illinois. Policymakers and community leaders are struggling with finding short- and long-term solutions to stem the violence and allow neighborhoods to heal. In the meantime, communities are fearing for their own safety and grieving over lost parents, children, friends, and leaders every day. The stakes forgetting the solutions right could not be higher. Poverty and violence often intersect, feed one another, and share root causes. Neighborhoods with high levels of violence are also characterized by high levels of poverty, lack of adequate public services and educational opportunity, poorer health outcomes, asset and income inequality, and more. The underlying socioeconomic conditions in these neighborhoods perpetuate both violence and poverty. Furthermore, trauma can result from both violence and poverty. Unaddressed trauma worsens quality of life, makes it hard to rise out of poverty by posing barriers to success at school and work, and raises the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way, untreated trauma—coupled with easy gun availability and other factors—feeds the cycle of poverty and violence.

It's Time We End Homelessness in Oak Park

November 9, 2016

To be homeless is to live on the streets. Or in a Housing Forward shelter. Or on someone's couch. In Oak Park, more than five percent of our residents live in extreme poverty, making less than $9,000 a year. About 15 percent of our residents are food insecure, meaning they don't know where they will get their next meal. Too many live one missed rent payment from eviction—and homelessness. The homeless are not just on our streets. They are our classmates at school, and our parents and friends from work or church or baseball teams. They are members of our community. In all, about 200 kids in elementary schools and high schools are homeless. They are living with friends or relatives sleeping on couches with no permanence. The Oak Park Homelessness Coalition is working to change that.Together, we can end homelessness in Oak Park.

Racism's Toll: Report on Illinois Poverty

February 3, 2016

Poverty rates are two to three times higher for Illinoisans of color, and people of color fare far worse on nearly every measure of well-being. In the latest of its annual reports on poverty, "Racism's Toll," Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center lays bare the moral, human, and economic cost of the deep inequities in the state and calls out public policies that have and are actively creating these racial inequities.

Confronting Homelessness in McHenry County: Strategic Plan to End Homelessness 2016-2018

December 31, 2015

In order to respond to local needs and to reach the goal of ending homelessness, McHenry County's homeless system spent 2015 engaged in a process to create a plan to end homelessness for McHenry County.This report captures McHenry County's plan and the work ahead. This new plan for McHenry County embodies strategic thinking around targeting resources to those most in need and likely to benefit through coordinated assessment; integrates and promotes best practices across housing and service interventions; and it identifies new partners, in new areas, to help seize critical opportunities and to leverage more support for the homeless system.

Not Even A Place in Line: Housing Choice Voucher Capacity and Waiting Lists in Illinois, 2015

November 4, 2015

This "Not Even a Place in Line" report captures the availability in Illinois (or lack thereof) of a core federal affordable housing program -- Housing Choice Vouchers -- to help address the dire need for affordable housing.Seventy-two percent of waiting lists for Housing Choice Vouchers in Illinois are closed. The 51 public housing authorities (PHAs) with closed waiting lists, out of a total of 71 PHAs in Illinois with voucher programs, administer 95 percent of the vouchers available in the state.This means that people in need of affordable rental housing in most every part of Illinois do not have the opportunity to even get in line to secure a federally funded subsidy that would alleviate their poverty and put their household in a better position to thrive.

2015 State Rankings Data

March 16, 2015

This companion to the report Poor by Comparison contains state rankings on over 25 different indicators related to poverty.

Creating Opportunity for Immigrant Women and Girls in the Chicago Region: Recommendations for the Chicago Foundation for Women's Civic Plan

February 24, 2015

Division sought to understand what economic, health, and violence-related issues are most pressing for immigrant women in the Chicago region, their families, and their communities. These findings are the result of a research and information gathering process with Chicago-area immigrant women, social service providers who work with immigrant communities, a literature review on related topics, and a scan of change efforts in other states and localities related to issues impacting immigrant women and their families. This report documents the key issues facing immigrant women in the Chicago region and prioritizes those concerns into actionable micro- and systems-level recommended change efforts. The Chicago Foundation for Women is building the concerns of immigrant women into their Civic Plan, and other community organizations and advocates can learn from the voices of impacted women themselves to ensure their efforts are aligned with the true needs and desires of the community.

Poor by Comparison: Report on Illinois Poverty

January 29, 2015

A report that examines how Illinois compares to other states on over 25 key metrics associated with poverty and hardship. In addition to addressing the state budget's structural deficit and tax policy, the report offers additional recommendations that, if implemented, would help ensure the people of Illinois can live the best lives possible and make Illinois more competitive in the process.

A Strategic Plan Forward to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County

July 22, 2014

The Social IMPACT Research Center led a dynamic planning process with The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County to help them create an updated strategic plan that will guide their work to end homelessness. A Strategic Plan Forward to End Homelessness is the culmination of that process. The plan embodies strategic thinking around targeting resources to those most in need and likely to benefit through coordinated assessment, written standards, and prioritization of resources. It integrates and promotes best practices across housing and service interventions. It identifies new partners, in new areas, to help seize critical opportunities and to leverage more support for the homeless system. It includes a new unmet need calculation and data dashboard to support ongoing data-informed decision-making. This plan, and the work to come from it, will position suburban Cook County to meet the HEARTH Act performance measures, end chronic homelessness, and work towards its ultimate goal of ending homelessness for all.