SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — More money is needed address the need for more affordable, permanent and stable homes for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, even after the governor approved $200 million for the state’s affordable housing program, two Democratic lawmakers said.
Sen. Mattie Hunter and Rep. Delia Ramirez, both of Chicago, said the money Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved in June — the state’s first capital plan in 10 years — will make a “significant difference,” but that it would take $1 billion more to sufficiently address the state’s infrastructure concerns, the State Journal-Register reported.
“I’m trying to be the kind of organizer that celebrates the small victories, and certainly the funding was a small victory and we’re grateful for it,” said Ramirez, who was formerly the director of a community social service agency. “It means, at a minimum, we’ll be able to develop another 2,000 units of affordable housing — so it’s another 2,000 families that otherwise would not be able to have some kind of permanent, stable housing — and certainly that’s a victory. But I certainly can’t say enough about how much more we need.”
Allison Clements, executive director of the Illinois Housing Council, said investment in more permanent, supportive housing will be needed to assist the “most vulnerable” renters, such as people with disabilities, veterans and homeless people.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority will be in charge of administering most of the affordable housing funds. Andrew Field, the agency’s deputy director of communications, said it will decide how money to distribute after officials have coordinated with the governor’s office.
More conversations need to take place so “we can come up with some kind of plan we can move forward in January,” said Hunter, a former community organizer who grew up in public housing. But the first step “is getting folks to the table.”
“As elected officials, it is our responsibility to help. How do we get there? I’m not sure,” Hunter said. “I’m just determined to pull something major together to try to improve the quality of life for these families.”
Ramirez said she hopes to propose legislation in January that would create a task force to examine housing needs in Illinois, including homelessness, and managing and maintaining a mortgage.