CCH leaders rally in Springfield (Photo by Jaime Michelle Schmitz)

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless does not accept government funding. Instead, when CCH advocates for public support, it is for the programs that shelter, house and assist homeless youth, students, families, and vulnerable adults.

During an impactful legislative session in 2019, the CCH policy and organizing staff, along with our grassroots leaders, successfully advocated for the following statewide initiatives that help to remove barriers for people experiencing homelessness.

HB 3129 – Strengthen TANF as a Lifeline: CCH advocated for House Bill 3129 with Heartland Alliance and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law to eliminate the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) full family sanction. The cash grant is meant to provide families living in extreme poverty assistance in meeting their basic needs, but sanctions can push families further into poverty and lead to children experiencing homelessness, ER visits, and food insecurity.  In providing that 75% of the grant belongs to the children, sanctions can now be levied only against the parental portion. Effective date, July 19, 2019. (Chief sponsors, Rep. Mary Flowers and Sen. Mattie Hunger)  Fact sheet available here.

CCH leaders with Rep. Sonya Harper

HB 3343 – The SNAP Prepared Meals Program: We also worked with Heartland Alliance and the Shriver Center to pass the Prepared Meals for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Recipients (House Bill 3343). This legislation allows people who are elderly, disabled, or experiencing homelessness to purchase prepared meals with their SNAP benefits.  This helps those who do not have access to a kitchen or are unable to use their kitchen safely. This legislation permits these populations to go to restaurants and grocery stores with hot bars to purchase meals at concession pricing. Effective date, July 19, 2019.  (Chief sponsors, Rep. Sonya Harper and Sen. Omar Aquino)  Fact sheet available here.

SB 1641 – End Hunger on Campus: Under the College Hunger Expansion, Senate Bill 1641, students will be notified of preliminary SNAP eligibility by their college/university, based on their Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant eligibility. Students still must apply for SNAP with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).  They also must comply with SNAP requirements mandated by the federal government to qualify for benefits. Effective date, August 23, 2019. (Chief sponsors, Rep. Nicholas Smith and Sen. Robert Peters)  Fact sheet available here.

HB 3331 – Strengthen the Homelessness Prevention Program: In organizing Continuums of Care around the state, House Bill 3331 clarified providers’ ability to assist people who may need support with arrearages and short-term housing assistance going forward. It also permits more comprehensive case management by this 20-year-old program, created through CCH advocacy. Effective date, Jan. 1, 2020. (Chief sponsors, Rep. Delia Ramirez and Sen. Laura Fine)  Fact sheet available here.

HB 2983 – Launching Youth Into Stability: This legislation seeks to ensure that youth leaving systems of care are in stable living situations. The Launching Youth Into Stability Act will charge state departments to come to the table to determine the number of youth leaving systems of care who enter into homelessness and find better ways to serve them. Effective date, Jan. 1, 2020. (Chief sponsors, Rep. Justin Slaughter and Sen. Suzy Glowiak)  Fact sheet available here.

CCH leaders with Rep. Curtis Tarver

SB 1780 – Housing as a Human Right: Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) – made up of the CCH Reentry Project, Heartland Alliance, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and Community Renewal Society – advocated for Senate Bill 1780. This legislation will make it a civil rights violation to discriminate during a real estate transaction based on an individual’s arrest record that did not lead to a conviction, a juvenile record, or a record that has been ordered sealed or expunged. Effective date, Jan. 1, 2020. (Chief sponsors, Rep. Curtis Tarver and Sen. Omar Aquino)

SB0001 – Minimum Wage: At the start of the spring legislative session, CCH worked with partners to advocate for the increase to the state’s minimum wage.  Effective January 1, 2020, the Illinois minimum wage will increase to $9.25 per hour. Six months later, on July 1, 2020, the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by $1 per hour, effective each January 1, until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2025. This increase impacts both people experiencing homelessness and some of the service providers and advocates who work with them. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on February 19, 2019.

SJRCA1 – Fair Tax Constitutional Amendment: Working with the Responsible Budget Coalition, CCH testified in support of SJRCA1.  This resolution permits the inclusion of a question on the November 2020 ballot on whether Illinois should shift from a flat income tax to a progressive, graduated income tax.

State Budget:  CCH worked to increase funding to the Homelessness Prevention Program with an additional $5 million, bringing the total to $9 million annually. The Homelessness Prevention Program saves the state thousands per household, ensuring families remain housed, but the budget was decimated over the past decade. Advocacy by a group of providers, led by CCH, resulted in over a two-fold increase.

We also helped secure $1 million more in funding for homeless youth programs, to $7 million. CCH also worked with housing partners to advocate for the inclusion of funds in the state’s first capital bill in 10 years. The $200 million in funding for affordable housing has the potential to create 2,000 additional housing units across the state. It’s $145 million more than the 2009 capital bill.

For more information, contact State Legislative Director Niya Kelly.