Lily Buchen is another Connections for the Homeless employee that lobbied in Springfield with Joining Forces in April. Lily is the Communications Coordinator for Connections’ Development Team, and she believes that communications in advocacy work is important. Advocating means to have a voice, and effective communication through that voice is a way to get people to care enough about a cause to take action. Communication can be educational and emotionally compelling, which can sway public opinion about issues and even influence legislation.
The topic of affordable housing can be overwhelming, and its complexity can be a barrier for people who are considering becoming advocates. However, advocates do NOT need to know all the details—the many varieties of programs to create affordability, how new housing is financed, the ins and outs of zoning, etc. This type of knowledge can be helpful and can come with time and work. But it’s not necessary before one can become an effective advocate.
Robert Todd is not only an affordable housing advocate who lobbied with Joining Forces in Springfield, he is also a Connections client with lived experience. As someone who has experienced homelessness and relied on services to provide shelter for him and help him look for housing he can afford, the statewide bills that we advocated for were especially important to Robert and people with similar experiences.
The affordable housing crisis is growing across the nation. We are seeing this in Evanston—more people coming to Connections for the Homeless for help, more struggling to maintain housing they can’t afford, and more who have lost their homes. Our programs are full, and more people are living outside waiting for an opening. Without more affordable housing, we--Connections and the community--cannot meet the need.
And for more affordable housing to be created, more people need to be demanding it, finding ways to make it happen, supporting action, and fighting opposition. We need your help, and we’ve developed a new membership structure to make it easier for you to get involved.
Travon Bonner is one of many people who advocated for more affordable housing in Springfield with Joining Forces this spring. She is the Youth Program Supervisor at Connections for the Homeless, which involves providing support and resources to the full team of people who serve 60 transition-aged youth at Connections. Travon helps with in-house clerical tasks, manages one of Connections’ homes that is staffed 24/7, works on the program’s budgeting, and ensures that programming that’s offered suits the needs of the program’s participants.
Joining Forces for Affordable Housing advocates for system change to make housing more affordable in our region. Recently, someone asked the sensible question of “What would it look like if the system changes were in place?” Here are four things that we believe help to answer that question.
by Nathaniel Hagemaster
Joining Forces for Affordable Housing provides education resources on affordable housing, homelessness, and related issues. We try to help people stay informed about the need for affordable housing and what can be done. We occasionally post research-based blog posts on the broader scope of homelessness and affordable housing.
Allison Keller is not only an affordable housing advocate. She is also a Rapid Rehousing and Transitional Housing Case Manager at Connections for the Homeless. In this role, she matches people to housing programs that provide one to two years of rental assistance and connects them to resources like school systems and public benefits programs to help them access jobs, food, and services. These programs help participants pay rents that they can afford and supplement the remaining housing costs for up to two years, while helping them to increase their income until they’re able to pay rent independently.
by Nathaniel Hagemaster
While it’s common knowledge that black people are highly overrepresented in homeless populations, fewer people know that members of the LGBTQIA community face similar adversity. Research is now showing that the long-held prejudices that keep minorities vulnerable to poverty contribute to homelessness among black and LGBTQIA populations, with a particularly intense impact where those populations overlap.
By Max Seeley
As the spring session for the 103rd Illinois General Assembly concludes and the dust settles, we can unquestionably say that this has been a remarkable session for advancing affordable housing and homeless services in our state. Our bill reforming the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeals Act (AHPAA) passed both chambers and is headed to the Governor’s Desk to be signed into law! The state budget for FY 2024 included a total of $60.1 million in funding increases for homeless services in Illinois, marking a huge step forward in ending homelessness in the state.