The State of Illinois has passed its first capital budget in ten years this past weekend.
DuPage United and the Fox River Valley Initiative with the rest of the Illinois Metro IAF affiliates (Lake County United and United Power for Action and Justice) fought hard for inclusion of substantial money for affordable housing and for specific allocation of funds for what we call “Reclaiming Communities” in two Chicago neighborhoods: Southwest Chicago and Lawndale. We won on each front.
$200 million allocation for the creation of affordable housing throughout the state – which will be competitively allocated to proposed developments by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). They dollars can be used to end homelessness, to provide housing for families, seniors, or individuals with physical or mental disabilities, or to reclaim more communities.
$12 million allocation for Southwest Organizing Project to acquire and renovate vacant buildings. This means that Reclaiming Southwest Chicago effort can go from 35 homes to 135 homes this year.
$3 million for North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council and United Power to begin the Reclaiming Lawndale Initiative. The initial investment will begin specifically with the resurrection of Lazarus Apartments—reclaiming 2 key vacant corner buildings that will provide 50 affordable homes and an initiative to restore traditional greystone homes throughout the community.
Since March, sixteen DU and FRVI leaders, along with IL Metro IAF leaders from Cook and Lake Counties, led focused, relational, in-district actions with key legislative leaders in the State Senate and House: House Majority Leader Greg Harris, Senate President John Cullerton, Senator Heather Steans, Representative Karina Villa, Representative Anna Moeller, Representative Tara Howard, and Representative and Capital Budget Committee Chairman Luis Arroyo.
The week before last, a team traveled to Springfield to join a press conference with the Illinois Housing Council, brief a key member of Governor Pritzker's staff, and follow-up with Senate President Cullerton, Senator Mattie Hunter, Senator Don Harmon, and Majority Leader Harris to present our three proposed areas of focus. Twelve other in-district legislative meetings were held with key state representatives and senators in Lake and Cook counties over the course of the spring.
Over the last week, numerous DU and FRVI leaders reached out individually to their state senators and representatives to let them know this issue was important and to ask them to support these initiatives in the final week of negotiations.
Our work paid off!
In 2009, United Power fought for and won an inclusion of money for affordable housing in the capital budget. In the end, we won $140 million to be used only for housing, the first time the state had ever included housing in a capital budget.
In 2019, we helped make housing in general a significant part of the proposed capital projects and, more significantly, introduced specific IL Metro IAF-led initiatives that can use capital dollars to rebuild communities—which resulted in a recognition by the legislature and governor that funding should follow results.
Now let’s get to work identifying more prospects for affordable housing!