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IMPACT Report: Employment and Income Navigation Pilot Program

October 25, 2023

The Chicago Continuum of Care's (CoC) Employment and Income Task Force developed an intervention, the Employment and Income Navigation Pilot Program, to integrate employment navigators and SSI/SSDI SOAR advocates into the CoC'S Expedited Housing Initiative. The pilot has played a vital role in bringing together the workforce, homelessness, and disability benefits systems. To assess how the program was implemented during its 1st year, we conducted a comprehensive mixed methods evaluation using a combination of primary and secondary data sources. The evaluation brief provides valuable insights into the pilot program's impact and areas for improvement. Key findings revealed supporting jobseekers experiencing homelessness through employment navigators and SOAR advocates is of paramount importance. However, we also found communication obstacles, separate data systems, and the necessity of additional resources for sustainability. We formulated actionable recommendations to enhance the program's impact and offered guidance for future programs and evaluations.   

Poverty, Income, & Health Insurance Update: Illinois and Chicago Region (2022)

September 15, 2023

Poverty among children more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 (from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022), according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)1 released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This the largest year-over-year poverty rate increase on record among individuals aged 17 years and younger. Children were hardest hit due, in large part, to the lapse of the Child Tax Credit; however, across all ages gains made from COVID-related assistance in 2021 were lost in 2022. In Illinois, there are over 4 million Illinoisans experiencing poverty, with over 760,000 Illinoisans living in extreme poverty. In 2022 census results, poverty rates for children and communities of color - similar to national trends - remain dramatically higerh than the overall rate. 

Expanded Child Tax Credits: Impact and Experiences - Spending on Basic Needs (Spotlight on Illinois)

April 28, 2023

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Congress passed major funding packages that included financial assistance payments to supplement the incomes of individuals and families. In response, the Get My Payment Illinois (GMPIL) Coalition formed in April 2020 to help low-income Illinoisans receive stimulus funds. The coalition is comprised of the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, and Heartland Human Care Services. In May 2020, the coalition launched a website, GetMyPaymentIL.org. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) increased and expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The coalition began to also work with government and nonprofit partners to spread the word about the Child Tax Credit (CTC).Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and New America Chicago engaged in research for GMPIL to (a) share the impact of CTC expansion on low-income Illinois families to bolster the case for a permanently expanded federal CTC and (b) advocate for improvements to the IRS non-filer tool to strengthen access to the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit in the long-term. IMPACT focused primarily on accomplishing the first research goal. To that end, we analyzed data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey (IPUMS CPS) and the Household Pulse Survey to estimate Illinois families' take up of CTC payments, including demographics--and how they spent those payments--as well as demographics of eligible families who did not receive CTC payments. We conducted interviews with eight families who claimed CTC payments and were intermittent filers (i.e., did not file taxes every year) to learn about their experiences claiming CTC and the impact of the CTC on their lives.Results from this study showed that only a little over half of eligible Latino/a/x and two thirds of eligible Asian families received CTC payments, compared to about three-quarters of eligible White, Black, and multiracial families. Middle-income families made up the largest portion of CTC recipients compared to higher and lower[1]income families. Most families used CTC payments mostly to pay off debt. CTC payments helped low-income families reduce financial insecurities, but families also experienced barriers in accessing payments. Results on spending behaviors showed that the top use for funds was on food, followed by clothing and utilities / telecommunications. 

Expanded Child Tax Credits: Impact and Experiences - Access to Child Tax Credits (Spotlight on Illinois)

April 28, 2023

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Congress passed major funding packages that included financial assistance payments to supplement the incomes of individuals and families. In response, the Get My Payment Illinois (GMPIL) Coalition formed in April 2020 to help low-income Illinoisans receive stimulus funds. The coalition is comprised of the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, and Heartland Human Care Services. In May 2020, the coalition launched a website, GetMyPaymentIL.org. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) increased and expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The coalition began to also work with government and nonprofit partners to spread the word about the Child Tax Credit (CTC).Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and New America Chicago engaged in research for GMPIL to (a) share the impact of CTC expansion on low-income Illinois families to bolster the case for a permanently expanded federal CTC and (b) advocate for improvements to the IRS non-filer tool to strengthen access to the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit in the long-term. IMPACT focused primarily on accomplishing the first research goal. To that end, we analyzed data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey (IPUMS CPS) and the Household Pulse Survey to estimate Illinois families' take up of CTC payments, including demographics--and how they spent those payments--as well as demographics of eligible families who did not receive CTC payments. We conducted interviews with eight families who claimed CTC payments and were intermittent filers (i.e., did not file taxes every year) to learn about their experiences claiming CTC and the impact of the CTC on their lives.Results from this study showed that only a little over half of eligible Latino/a/x and two thirds of eligible Asian families received CTC payments, compared to about three-quarters of eligible White, Black, and multiracial families. Middle-income families made up the largest portion of CTC recipients compared to higher and lower income families. Most families used CTC payments mostly to pay off debt. CTC payments helped low-income families reduce financial insecurities, but families also experienced barriers in accessing payments.In regards to accessing child tax credits, previous research has shown eligible families with the lowest incomes were the least likely to receive Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments. Other types of eligible families who may not have gotten some or all of their CTC include families who did not filed taxes in 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2022; families who did not use the Internal Revenue Service's non-filer tool in 2021 to claim CTC; and families with immigrant parents whose children have social security numbers.  

Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in Illinois

October 7, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, including eligibility requirements and sanction procedures, create barriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at Heartland Alliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalitionfor the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.

Executive Summary - Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in Illinois

October 7, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, includingeligibility requirements and sanction procedures, createbarriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at HeartlandAlliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood JohnsonFoundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.

Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in Illinois

October 7, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, including eligibility requirements and sanction procedures, create barriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at Heartland Alliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalitionfor the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.

Illinois and Chicago Region 2021: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance (Fact Sheet)

September 15, 2022

Poverty rates increased and household incomes were stagnant inIllinois from 2019 to 2021. This data reflects 2021, when COVID-19 pandemic-related government assistance provided some relief, suggesting that the financial picture is likely much worse today.

Services to Trafficking Survivors in Illinois Targeted Communities

March 17, 2021

This report documents the implementation and participant outcomes of a partnership project intended to increase identification of and service provision to survivors of human trafficking by providing training and technical assistance to organizations in high-need areas in Illinois. Prior to the development of this partnership, anti-trafficking resources in Illinois had been concentrated in Chicago and the surrounding area. Other areas of the state, namely Peoria and Kankakee, had low levels of anti-trafficking resources and victim identification, despite high vulnerability factors for trafficking. 

Illinois and Chicago Region: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance

September 26, 2019

Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off. The poverty rate for the United States was 11.8% in 2018, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2017. There were 38.1 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2018, 1.5 million Illinoisans were in poverty—a rate of 12.1%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold. This year marks the first time that the U.S.poverty rate is below pre-recession levels; Illinois lags behind this trend,with its poverty rate just returning to pre-recession levels.

Employment & Income Growth Among People Experiencing Homelessness

July 19, 2018

This infographic highlights current trends in how well the homeless service system is connecting people exiting the system with employment and income. The infographic is based on an analysis of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care System Performance Measure data from 2016. 

Access to Secure Choice: Addressing the Barriers to Retirement Savings for Illinois Workers

November 28, 2017

Illinois is among the first states in the nation to pass retirement savings legislation in the form of Secure Choice. With the implementation of Secure Choice, workers in Illinois at qualifying businesses without access to an employment-based retirement plan will be automatically enrolled in a retirement savings program. An estimated 1.3 million Illinoisans who currently do not have access to workplace retirement plans will be potentially impacted by Secure Choice. As Illinois moves toward Secure Choice implementation, however, there are a number of key questions that should be answered to help ensure that the program is addressing barriers to participation, especially among low-income workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color. This research is aimed at better understanding these barriers.