Since 1990, IACAA has delivered technical assistance to providers of homeless services, and to homeless families and individuals in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Basic Support (the Bureau) under the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program.
Since the beginning of 2012, work with the Bureau has focused on the Keystone Project. Keystone directly targets families and individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness, are at immediate risk, or are re-establishing stability and rebuilding their lives in the wake of that trauma.
Currently, the main element in the Keystone Project is Keystone Magazine. The Magazine is a monthly publication that delivers practical information that families and individuals can use in their plans for the future. The Magazine is intended to supplement efforts readers make on their own, and in conjunction with professional case workers in social service agencies. Circulation is approximately 650.
Examples of topics and issues addressed:
As a conduit to make the connection to that population, IACAA’s approach makes use of networks of homeless service providers that IACAA has developed over its 40 plus years of service to the statewide Community Action Network, and the communities, families, and individuals it serves. IACAA’s program staff also have substantial experience in direct services to persons who are homeless.
IACAA also takes advantage of the technological change, including internet resources to reach the targeted population, using email, a web site (https://sites.google.com/site/kswebhome/), and other web tools. Even individuals in this particularly disadvantaged group have at least some internet access either of their own or through friends, relatives, or service agencies. The Association is actively pursuing ways to enhance current channels of communication with low income families, either directly, or through our extensive network of service providers, especially IACAA member agencies that are so deeply rooted and respected in local communities throughout Illinois.
The IACAA Community Action network has a long record of engaging in advocacy on issues relating to the needs of low income families in Illinois. But IACAA has a unique perspective in these struggles in that the network does not advocate for those who need to get a fair shake from the state’s economy. As in all areas, those families are full partners with the network, to the extent that by law they are represented on our members’ boards of directors.
Our other advocacy partners, in the housing area, include Housing Action Illinois, a statewide advocacy organization. IACAA has been active on Housing Action’s board of directors since soon after their birth. Together, the low income families, the IACAA network, Housing Action, and other Illinois advocates have amassed an impressive record, including the establishment of Illinois’ Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Homeless Prevention Program, and the Rental Housing Support Program, to name just a few.
A combination of low wages and limited availability of affordable rental housing units requires many families and households throughout the State of Illinois to pay a disproportionate share of their income for basic housing. There are also households in the state that face additional difficulty in finding affordable housing due to disabilities or special needs of family members.
In order to address this pressing need, the Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP) was enacted in 2005. The Rental Housing Support Program promotes permanent housing through the funding of rent subsidies for these 'rent burdened' extremely and severely low-income households. Fewer than half the states in the nation have a rental assistance program and only two other states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, provide long-term rental support.
IACAA signed a three (3) year contract with the Illinois Housing Development Authority in 2008 to administer this program within 16 rural counties of Illinois in Round I of the RHSP. Participating agencies are Project Now in Rock Island, Rockford Human Services, Two Rivers Regional Council of Public Officials in Quincy, and Wabash Area Development, Inc. (WADI), in Enfield. Currently 57 families are being assisted through Round I. In many cases, these IACAA member agencies are also providing services other than housing to the tenant families.
IACAA has also been awarded in Round II (2009) of the RHSP. This partnership will include Rockford Human Services, Shawnee Development Council in Karnak, and Tri-County Opportunities Council in Rock Falls. This award will increase the coverage by 16 counties, for a total of 32 counties in all. Units are not yet rented.
IACAA is applying for Round III funding in the fall of 2009 for an award to be made in the spring of 2010. This is likely to substantially increase the number of counties and families served.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a program that helps eligible people find a permanent home and also get local mental health services but only if and when they need that help. PSH wants to boost people's power to choose their own living arrangements and get services that are flexible based upon the support they need at any given time.
The Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health is committed to, as a priority toward systems rebalancing, the development and expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for individuals who meet defined criteria of eligibility and who are diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The goal of this initiative is to promote and stabilize consumer Recovery with elective support services in one's leased or owned home that (1) provides safety, (2) ensures comfort and decency and (3) is financially manageable within the resources that the consumer has available. You can view the full DMH Housing Policy in the list of documents below.
Other Housing Resources
To find housing in your area go to www.ILHousingSearch.org