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Recap of Housing Action Illinois Conference

I attended Housing Action Illinois' annual conference, called "Housing Matters" on October 24 and 25. It was excellent, and I recommend everyone interested in housing issues in Illinois watch for this next year and head to Bloomington in October.

Here's a link to descriptions of the sessions from the conference, that includes links to the PowerPoints that were presented.

And here's a super short summary of what I got from the sessions I attended (and that's in addition to lots of great networking, meeting new housing people, and seeing friends from around the state):

Segregation in the Heartland:
One new thing I learned: How closely school district boundaries are tied to housing issues.
Memorable quote: "Segregation is not just about where people live. Segregation is about resources, and resource hoarding."

Innovations to Lower the Cost of Construction:
One new thing I learned: That even "free" land donated for construction isn't free--it often takes $85,000 just in clean-up to get a plot ready for construction.
Memorable idea: Let's look to utility companies to start putting money on the table to cover the costs of "passive house" construction and affordable housing.

Forging New Partnerships: Housing & Healthcare:
One new thing I learned: Housing is a way to reduce stays, not just at hospitals and prisons, but also at many other high-cost settings, including detox centers and psych wards.
Another new thing I learned: It hasn't been easy to engage hospitals in contributing towards housing & healthcare programs, even though it appears to be a great match--and no one seems to really know why.

Bold Federal Housing Proposals:
One thing that was strongly confirmed: Rep. Jan Schakowsky is tuned into the federal housing legislation that is being proposed. Most other U.S. reps from Illinois are not!
Memorable tidbit: The National Low Income Housing Coalition does a podcast on the 3rd Thursday of the month about non-partisan voter and candidate engagement! Check it out here.

Getting Started: A Toolkit for Local Affordable Housing Advocacy:
I presented this session and will provide more information about it in future Digests.

Closing Remarks from Sol Flores, Illinois Deputy Governor 
Memorable moment: Ms. Flores spoke of the horrible choices that human services organizations had to make because of the State budget impasse in 2015 and acknowledged that the sector has not yet fully recovered. How refreshing to have the governor's office truly understand the damage that was done!
Looking forward: She recognized those of us who have reached out to her with new ideas and plans and is open to collaboration. Perhaps there is hope.