About
Housing is a human right. 
We envision diverse, inclusive communities 
with sustainable housing for all.

Our Vision

The vision of Joining Forces is that:
 
  1. Our state prioritizes funding for affordable housing and requires every county and municipality to have comprehensive plans to create and sustain affordability. Those plans:
    • Are equitable within and across communities.
    • Are integrated with economic development, human services, public safety, and other municipal functions.
    • Include solutions that will meet the challenges of the future related to climate change, an aging population, scarcity of resources, and sustainability.
    • Include goals and measures that municipalities are held accountable for achieving.
  2. Our North Suburban Cook County Region has a range of sustainable housing choices for people of all economic levels, races, ages, and abilities, and the people who work and have roots here can afford to live here too. Choices include housing in many price ranges and forms that is functional, and safe, provides access to necessities and amenities, and is close to public transportation.
  3. Our local governments view housing as a necessity to which every resident has a right, and actively seek to increase affordability and remove exclusionary barriers to housing for all.
  4. Our residents in all neighborhoods understand the need for and embrace and support the changes that increased affordability and inclusion will require.

Our Advocacy Positions

We take a broad approach to building wellbeing and supporting people as they weather the storms that life can bring to any of us. Central to wellbeing is the ability to obtain housing that is safe, stable and affordable. We advocate for the following:

Building on What’s Already There: We support housing solutions that build on strengths that already exist in our neighborhoods, while undoing damage created by redlining and other exclusionary zoning and housing practices. We support preservation of existing affordable housing and stabilizing people in need rather than displacing them.
 
Variety: We support a combination of solutions that addresses the multiplicity of short- and long-term needs found in each municipality and ward. The scope of solutions we seek and support will serve the full range of stakeholders—homeowners, landlords, and renters—as community equals. We support solutions that include new building, preservation, and subsidies as key tools for housing affordability. 
 
Well-Done Density: We support density as a way to increase affordability, social and health supports, racial justice, access to public transportation, environmental sustainability, and economic development. Well-done density is an increase in the supply of quality housing tailored to each neighborhood that makes more housing available to current and future residents at affordable rates and that preserves or improves the environment and the ability of residents to access necessities such as work, food, school, and services as well as amenities such as recreational facilities.

Equity-Based Zoning: We support changing and streamlining zoning codes throughout the region to eliminate segregation and remove barriers to affordability. We support eliminating single-family zoning and permitting reasonable variations in household size and make-up, building configuration, height, size, and parking requirements.

Spending: We support housing as a budget priority for public entities and private stakeholders that serve the community such as universities, hospitals, retirement homes and others. We support municipal efforts to proactively seek and create new sources of revenue specifically for housing-related programs and development.

Advocacy in Action
Since Joining Forces for Affordable Housing started in 2016, we have actively contributed to the following changes in north suburban Cook County through advocacy and lobbying:

  • Addition of new units to the stock of affordable housing in suburban Cook County:
    • 22 new units 
    • 3 in process
    • 51 approved but no ground broken yet
See our Development Tracker for more information (coming soon).

  • Strengthening the City of Evanston's Inclusionary Housing Ordinance to require some affordable units on-site in new residential developments and a higher in-lieu fee amount.

  • Quarterly City of Evanston Council meetings with a focus on affordable housing.

  • Appointment of a new Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee in Evanston, tasked with creating a new affordable housing plan.

  • Changes to the City of Evanston's rules and regulations to allow more creation and use of ancillary dwelling units such as coach houses and garden apartments, in an effort to pave the way for affordability measures.

  • Completion of a feasibility study on affordable assisted-living units, commissioned and financed through efforts of the City of Evanston's Age-Friendly Task Force, which has since become a committee of Joining Forces.

  • Engagement of several Leagues of Women Voters in north suburban Cook County in affordable housing advocacy through use of our Affordable Housing Advocacy Toolkit.
 
  • Creation and delivery of an Affordable Housing Advocacy curriculum at Loyola Academy, delivered two years in a row.

  • A vote by the Wilmette Village Board to adopt the Cook County increase in minimum wage, where they had initially used their Home Rule status to maintain the minimum wage at then current rates.

  • Re-establishment of the Village of Wilmette Housing Commission.

  • Collection of community input on fair housing in north suburban Cook County for the County's 2020 Fair Housing Assessment.
Who We Are

Joining Forces for Affordable Housing is a program of Connections for the Homeless. Through this program, we have created a coalition of human services, religious, and other organizations, as well as individuals, advocating for more affordable housing in Evanston, Illinois, and throughout north suburban Cook County. The Manager of Advocacy at Connections for the Homeless, Sue Loellbach, is the Director of the Joining Forces program and coalition. You can reach her at sloellbach@connect2home.org.