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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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Most Illinois Affordable-Housing Waitlists Closed

A new study finds almost three-quarters of Illinois public housing authorities have closed waiting lists for housing vouchers.
A new study finds almost three-quarters of Illinois public housing authorities have closed waiting lists for housing vouchers.
November 5, 2015

CHICAGO – Many Illinois families that need access to affordable housing are finding it more difficult this year to get on a waiting list for housing vouchers.

A new report from the advocacy group Housing Action Illinois and the anti-poverty organization Heartland Alliance shows 72 percent of Illinois' public housing authorities have closed waiting lists.

Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, says the number of closed lists has jumped 16 percent since 2007 as Illinois poverty rate also continues to grow.

"Families that need affordable housing can't even get in line to get a Housing Choice Voucher to help them pay their rent,” he states. “So, that puts them at risk of homelessness. "

The study points out the only waiting lists that are open are in rural areas of Illinois, but those have only just a few slots left to fill.

Palmer is urging Congress to restore the federal housing vouchers that were lost to budget cuts going back to 2013.

Congress still is debating how much money federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will get as part of a two-year budget agreement signed by President Barack Obama on Monday.

Palmer says while restoring the vouchers will help, it's only part of alleviating Illinois' poverty problem.

"Increasing the number of Housing Choice Vouchers available is just one solution, and we would support things like raising the minimum wage, creating more living wage jobs, using other programs, public and private, to increase the amount of affordable rental housing," he stresses.

In all, about 67,000 housing vouchers could be restored, and up to 5 percent of those could end up helping Illinois.


Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL