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.
These successes would not have been possible without partner organizations such as Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois, and the Supportive Housing Providers Association. Another influential group in the success of this session is the staff, participants, and Joining Forces members who joined us for our 2023 Springfield Lobby Day; on April 18th and 19th, we brought a group of 22 advocates to our state capitol, speaking to legislators about personal experiences with homelessness, the importance of funding homeless services, and encouraging all municipalities to pursue affordable housing.
As part of a coalition of affordable housing advocates, Connections’ advocacy team members helped to shape SB 1476, a bill reforming AHPAA. AHPAA is a state law which has been in place since 2004 that required municipalities with under 10% of their housing stock considered affordable to create plans to increase affordability and allow appeals to zoning decisions that work against affordable housing developments. Unfortunately, this law lacked “the teeth” to be enforced properly, municipalities weren’t required to implement their affordable housing plans, and there hasn’t been a single appeal filed under AHPAA, nearly 20 years after it was implemented. SB 1476, which passed both the State House and the State Senate by large margins, addresses both of these issues.
Municipalities will now be required to not only create and submit an affordable housing plan but will also need to show how they are taking steps to implement their plans and increase affordable housing. Our bill also makes more people eligible to file an appeal on behalf of a rejected affordable housing development. Formerly, only developers were eligible to appeal decisions that reject affordable housing in municipalities with low affordability, but now groups of over 25 concerned residents and affordable housing organizations will be eligible to make appeals for more affordability. With the passage of this bill, our state is taking another step towards ensuring that every municipality is working to combat the affordable housing crisis.
The final, and most important piece of legislation passed by the General Assembly this session was the FY 2024 State Budget, which sets the how much funding will be provided for state programs and how the state will pay for them. In February, Governor Pritzker unveiled his proposed budget, which included over $200 million for homeless services under the HOME Illinois line item. Despite a $500 million hole that appeared in the initial budget mid-session, the funding that the Governor proposed for HOME Illinois was preserved. The state budget for FY 2024 includes $131.4 million for direct homeless services. This includes, $51.1 million for emergency and transitional housing (an increase of $40.6 million), $19.8 million for homelessness prevention (an increase of $9.8 million), $11.4 million for homeless youth programs (an increase of $4.2 million), and $49.1 million for supportive housing services (an increase of $5.5 million). Overall, the funding for direct homeless services increased by $60.1 million compared to last year’s budget. This is a huge increase that will push our state further as we work to end homelessness in the state of Illinois.
These accomplishments from the spring legislative session would not be possible without the advocacy work of Joining Forces and many other partner organizations.
If you would like to get involved in our state advocacy work, please contact Max Seeley at firstname.lastname@example.org.