Addressing Affordable Housing and Homelessness in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Plan 2.0 is a comprehensive seven-year plan of action that reaffirms the basic principles of the original Chicago Plan to End Homelessness, such as prevention of homelessness, housing first and comprehensive services. This plan also identifies new strategies to improve access and opportunities for those most in need. The City of Chicago is committed to instituting programs aimed at alleviating poverty in Illinois and responding to the needs of the most affected communities, including the homeless population. In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the administration launched what was at the time the largest emergency housing assistance program in the country to help Illinois residents who have been negatively affected by the virus. The federal government gives state governments the freedom and discretion necessary to adapt Medicaid plans to cover support and shelter-related services, complemented by grants for mental health and substance abuse and for drug treatment. The City of Chicago needs to develop comprehensive plans to support local affordable housing projects, such as those on 18th Street and Peoria in Pilsen, the city's largest affordable housing plan.

The numbers used in Chicago include data from Naperville, Joliet, and suburban and rural areas in between, meaning that boundaries can tilt much more than what is actually “affordable” for low-income Chicagoans. Prioritizing chronically homeless people for placement in existing supportive housing using data-based approaches that target those most in need is essential. To create public safety by directly addressing poverty and the economic, racial and environmental injustice that create disorder in many Chicago communities, it is necessary to partner with neighborhood builders to naturally establish affordable housing units in every community and to establish a coalition of neighborhood builders to advise on affordable housing opportunities across the city. Right after taking office, it is important to convene a committee of housing experts and community stakeholders to assess the housing crisis in Chicago and take steps to immediately house Chicagoans. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is committed to facilitating and leveraging all forms of Medicaid and behavioral health funding for supportive housing services to ensure that housing solutions create the supportive environments necessary for sustained and stable outcomes. Additionally, it is important to protect and provide services for seniors living in subsidized buildings across the city, so they can age with dignity, in safe housing and with the care services they need.