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Annual Caravan to Collect Info on Housing Issues Plaguing Illinois

August 19, 2010

PEORIA, Ill. - Illinoisans have one more day - today - to meet and speak with housing advocates who are traveling the state, seeking to learn about the challenges residents face keeping a roof over their heads. Each year, Housing Action Illinois' board of directors and staff take a three-day road trip, or "caravan," through a different region of Illinois. The caravan participants both listen to stories about local affordable housing issues and inform the public about state and federal programs.

Mary Ellen Tamasy, co-chair of Housing Action Illinois, joined the caravan earlier this week. She says the state's $13-billion budget shortfall has led to significant cuts in social service programs, making it tougher on folks who have monetary problems of their own. In addition, renters are getting caught up in the foreclosure epidemic, even though they don't own the home, she says.

"People were paying their rent, but now they're being evicted or the buildings are being let go because the owners is not paying their mortgage anymore. That's a whole part of a fair housing issue for renters."

The group also heard another common challenge is the spotty availability of affordable housing, says Tamasy.

"We heard about some limitations, including that affordable housing is only in certain areas; that it's not distributed across the county in a broader way, which creates problems for transportation."

Housing Action Illinois' Annual Caravan will visit Joliet and Alsip today. This year's tour included visits to various towns in suburban Cook County and the five collar counties. Information shared during the caravan stops will help the organization chart its advocacy and policy decisions for the year.

Aricka Flowers, Public News Service - IL