Illinois Legislative Wrap Up: 2023

The Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its spring session this past Friday evening/Saturday morning (depending on if you think of the glass half full or empty).  Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) worked on several legislative initiatives to best support people experiencing homelessness. With fiscal concerns fueled by an unexpected drop in projected revenue, the budgeteers were a bit more cautious in allocating funding to new and additional services.  

This year Chicago Coalition for the Homeless asked for additional funding for four-line items.

These items directly address housing security including homelessness prevention, homeless youth, permanent supportive housing, and emergency and transitional housing. Service providers struggle with the hard decisions around making cuts to services and turning people and families away when there isn’t enough space or funding to provide them with help. In addition, CCH asked for an increase in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant program.  

In the Governor’s proposed budget, he laid the way for his plan to end homelessness in Illinois under the new initiative Home Illinois

The program has $85 million in new money to support homeless services.

After budget negotiation these funds will be allocated as follows: $40.7 million to support Emergency and Transition Housing, $10.8 million to Homelessness Prevention Programming, $6 million to Permanent Supportive Housing, and $3 million for Homeless Youth Programming. The plan also includes funds for asylum seekers, as well as federal funds for rapid rehousing, eviction support, triage shelters, and pilot programs. We are excited about the additional funding opportunities for providers and the people and communities they serve.  

CCH worked on passing legislation that will remove structural barriers.

For students experiencing housing insecurity, school is often the only place where things are stable for homeless students. Schools are required to provide services and assistance to students who are experiencing housing insecurity, but sometimes students aren’t aware that help is available and sometimes teachers are unsure of how to identify or provide aid to these students. Helping these students remain enrolled and engaged is critical for their futures. House Bill 3116 (Representative Katie Stuart and Senator Karina Villa) will require all school personnel to complete a training to help them identify and know the supports for these students.  

CCH worked in collaboration with Cabrini Green Legal Aid

on Senate Bill 1367 (Senator Christopher Belt and Representative Lilian Jimenez). In 2020 our organizations successfully worked on the Public Housing Access Bill (PHAB) creating standards for Illinois Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to make sure returning citizens have access to public housing.  It created a standardization for the criminal background screening process, improved equity, and access to affordable housing for individuals with records. To provide additional clarity and provide greater access SB 1367 shortened the look-back periods, expands public housing to any program that receives federal funding and provides applicants with an opportunity to present mitigating circumstances before being denied due to their background.  This legislation also clarifies data collection.  

TANF cash assistance did receive an increase.

Our advocacy for an increase to the TANF cash assistance did result in an increase, but not to the level families need. We asked for a 20% increase, to move the cash assistance from 30% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) (where the support has been for the last six years) to 50%., The Governor’s office requested an increase to 40%, and the final budget implementation bill increased the assistance by only 5% to 35% FPL.  With the federal government looking to put more restrictions and barriers in the way of families receiving TANF in their compromise over the debt ceiling, making sure that we are providing families with an increased grant amount will be a continued goal at CCH.    

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless would like to thank our partners in this work.

alongside the advocates who worked with us this year including the sponsors listed above as well as Representative Michelle Mussman and Senator Adriane Johnson who carried the housing budget ask legislation, Representative Will Guzzardi, chair of the Housing Committee, Senator Robert Peters and Senator Sara Feigenholtz for their advocacy for the Homeless Youth line item and Leader Elgie Sims and Leader Jehan Gordan-Booth the chief budgeteers in both chambers.  

If you would like to learn more about what CCH was advocating for in Springfield this season check out our State Legislation page:

CCH advocacy leads to passage of three bills, increased funding for housing programs

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

During this successful legislative session, CCH policy and organizing staff, alongside our grassroots leaders, worked on various initiatives to remove barriers for people experiencing homelessness.

Shared advocacy and organizing in Springfield resulted in increased funding for housing programs in the FY23 state budget as well as the passage of HB 5265, HB 4242, and HB 2775, bills that will support K-12 students, increase access to child care, and ban source of income discrimination for renters.

Continue reading CCH advocacy leads to passage of three bills, increased funding for housing programs

Springfield advocacy: CCH’s 2022 state legislative agenda

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

This year the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is advocating for several statewide measures that would remove barriers for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. CCH policy and organizing staff, along with our grassroots leaders, are leading efforts to pass four bills that will impact students experiencing homelessness, extremely low-income families and children, and people using rental assistance or housing vouchers.

CCH is advocating for the following legislation: 

HB 5265: Financial Equity in Education for Students (FEES)

Illinois school districts are permitted to charge students and their families annual mandatory fees. Fees can include textbooks, instructional materials, and school activities. These fees can add up quickly, putting a strain on low-income parents and guardians who are trying to make ends meet. Fortunately, public school students experiencing homelessness or whose families are classified as low-income have access to fee waivers. Charter schools are obligated to waive fees for students who are experiencing homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act but are not required to waive fees for low-income students and their families. 

HB 5265 will create parity between students at public schools and charter schools to ensure students and families living in poverty are not burdened by financial barriers to their educations. 

Continue reading Springfield advocacy: CCH’s 2022 state legislative agenda

Take Action for Illinois Families

The Illinois House Appropriations-Human Services Committee will vote on HB4423 this Thursday, February 24 at 8 a.m.

HB4423 would support families living in extreme poverty by increasing the cash assistance families receive each month. This increase would ensure families are able to meet their basic needs including paying rent, purchasing clothing, hygiene products, and maintaining transportation. This legislation would also ensure that when a noncustodial parent pays child support that the money goes directly to the family. Currently, the state and federal government are given a portion of the child support payment.

Please file a witness slip on behalf of your organization or yourself to indicate your support for an increase in the TANF Cash Grant amount and ensure that child support payments go directly to the child.

How to fill out the online witness slip: 

  1. Go to this link.
  2. If you can file a slip on behalf of your organization, include your organization name under “Representation.” If you do not represent a firm or organization, please write “NA” in the Firm/Business Or Agency and Title fields and “Self” under Representation. 
  3. To indicate your support of the bill, please click “Proponent.”
  4. Under Testimony, select “Record of Appearance Only.”
  5. Agree to the Terms of Agreement and click on the “Create(Slip)” button.

Bill that would create parity for charter school students moves forward with bipartisan support

UPDATE: Thanks to the shared advocacy of our community, Facilitating Equity in Education for Students (FEES) (House Bill 5265) was moved out of committee with unanimous, bipartisan support on February 16. Sixty-five people submitted witness slips as proponents of the bill.

Representative Will Guzzardi, CCH Grassroots Leader and Board Member Maxica Williams, and CCH Education Attorney Alyssa Phillips testified at the hearing. CCH is grateful to be one step closer to ensuring every student in Illinois has access to a free and comprehensive education.  

Read our fact sheet on HB5265 here.

Photo of grassroots leader April Harris, smiling from her neck up. April is quoted: “Waivers at charter
schools prevent students from falling through the cracks and help students stay focused on their academics and not their current situation. It is important for students to feel that they matter and that they’re not forgotten during difficult times.”
Grassroots Leader and Outreach Assistant April Harris

Continue reading Bill that would create parity for charter school students moves forward with bipartisan support

Restaurant Meals Program pilot seeks participating restaurants

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

In 2019, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless worked alongside Heartland Alliance and Shriver Center on Poverty Law to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This legislation allows people who are elderly, disabled, or experiencing homelessness to purchase prepared meals with their SNAP benefits at restaurants or supermarkets with hot bars. This change helps individuals who do not have access to a kitchen or are unable to use their kitchen safely.  

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is piloting the program in targeted zip codes before expanding it to the rest of the state.  

Continue reading Restaurant Meals Program pilot seeks participating restaurants