Saturday, March 17, 2007
sponsored by Jake's Furnishings & Illini Bank

Gov. Blagojevich announces plan to provide $763 million to help 146,000 Illinois residents afford decent homes and receive housing-related services

The third annual Comprehensive Housing Plan promotes homeownership and provides assistance to rental households          Send a link to a friend

[March 17, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Governor Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday announced his third consecutive comprehensive housing plan to help thousands of working families, seniors and the disabled across the state have access to quality, affordable homes and residential services. This year's plan has identified $763 million in spending earmarked for affordable housing at nine different state agencies -- up from a total of $690 million last year -- that will help approximately 146,000 Illinois residents in need of affordable housing.

The 2007 Comprehensive Housing Plan, "Affordable Housing Dimensions," outlines the strategies and actions the State is pursuing in 2007 to improve the range, quality, and quantity of affordable housing options for Illinois residents, especially underserved populations. It is also the focal point of the State's efforts to improve coordination of housing resources among State agencies, help more Illinois households afford their rent or mortgage, and promote economic growth in communities throughout the state.

"Affordable housing is not just about putting roofs over heads -- it's about making sure families still have enough left over to pay the bills, afford health insurance, or cover other expenses. This plan will help make sure that every dollar spent on housing is used as efficiently as possible to help working families, seniors and the disabled afford a place they can call their own," said Gov. Blagojevich.

A Housing Production Plan makes up the core of the 2007 report and details actions and funding for the priority populations. Strategies proposed through the Comprehensive Housing Plans are increasingly transforming Illinois housing by targeting the priority populations that are significantly underserved.

"Governor Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor in history to require the comprehensive coordination of the State's housing programs. By pulling together the housing resources of different state agencies, we are able to focus on the needs of various sub-populations within the previously identified priority populations. This is leading to a creative approach to financing and building affordable housing," said DeShana Forney, executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the State's leading affordable housing agency.

In 2003, the Governor established the 35-member Housing Task Force, chaired by the executive director of IHDA, who works closely with over 16 state departments to assure the coordination of housing programs. Task Force members include advocates, developers, lenders, as well as state department directors and government agency representatives.

"Affordable Housing Dimensions" builds upon the achievements of the 2005 "Building for Success: Illinois' Comprehensive Housing Plan" and the 2006 Plan, "On the Road to Success." In these plans, the Governor required that housing programs and resources in the Plan be targeted to the following priority populations: very low-income households and families; low-income senior citizens; low-income people with disabilities; homeless people and families and those at risk of becoming homeless; low- and moderate-income families and people unable to find affordable housing near jobs or transportation; and low-income families and people living in existing affordable housing that is in danger of becoming unaffordable.

The following initiatives are featured in the 2007 Plan:

  • Rental Housing Support Program (RHS Program): Provides subsidies that reduce the cost of renting for extremely low-income households. The Program is expected to generate more than $25 million to help around 4,000 families during the first year afford their rents starting early 2008, making it the nation's largest rental assistance program.

  • Supportive Housing: Offers housing options to those with health, income, disability and other special needs, who can not live completely independently. A working group of the Task Force will make recommendations for increasing this type of housing.

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  • Housing Preservation: Funds the rehabilitation or refinancing of existing affordable housing at risk of being lost due to deferred maintenance, expiring subsidies, or changes in local housing markets. In 2007, the State will provide $100 million to housing preservation initiatives serving approximately 885 low-income families and seniors in Illinois.

  • Linking Service Plans and Affordable Housing: Coordinates plans at different agencies for reassessing and better addressing the housing needs of persons with special needs. The plans touch on issues including: the reduction of the number of people living in institutions, better use of available Federal funds, the importance of ties to community, enhanced services, greater communication among providers, the need to promote program participant involvement in decision-making, and more housing stock designed to meet special needs populations.

"Supportive housing is the best tool we have to help people with disabilities live as independently as possible, to the best of their ability. The proposals in the Governor's Plan are exactly what it's going to take to ensure we know who needs our help, where they are, what they need, and how we can provide it to them," said State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), a prominent voice for affordable housing in Illinois who also sits on the Governor's Housing Task Force.

Some of the State's ongoing activities discussed in the document have begun to have a significant impact. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is now in phase four of the "Get The Lead Out Program," which has already reduced lead-based paint hazards in 859 homes across the state. IDPH has contracted to abate 398 additional homes in the next three years.

There are three Housing Principles that guide the State's strategies and actions to increase the availability of affordable housing for all in Illinois. The first principle, "Affordability and Choice" refers to the need for a full range of quality housing options across the State. The second principle, "Creation and Preservation" reflects the need to stop the loss of existing affordable housing as well as to create new housing. The third principle, "Leadership" recognizes that because housing is critical to the health of our communities and economy, housing development must receive promotion, coordination, and guidance in order to ensure that every area and group can fairly compete for resources.

The Near North Apartments development in Chicago exemplifies the State's efforts to increase affordability and choice for Illinois residents. The State contributed more than $5 million to non-profit group Mercy Housing Lakefront to build the single-room occupancy development for 96 formerly homeless and low-income individuals, many of whom have physical disabilities. The environmentally-friendly building, designed by acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn, will also offer case management and employment counseling to its residents.

"The Governor's Housing Task Force and the Comprehensive Housing Plans have helped encourage affordable housing developers in Illinois to explore innovative ways to finance their projects and the Near North Apartments is an example of what can be achieved. The development is a real joint effort: the State funded more than one third of the costs, the City of Chicago donated the land and provided tax credits for investors secured by the National Equity Fund. The Federal Home Loan Bank, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and corporations such as USG also gave significant grants," said Cindy Holler, executive director of Mercy Housing Lakefront.

Copies of all the Housing Plans can be accessed at

[Text copied from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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