As demand for federal housing vouchers intensifies in Illinois, residents in need of affordable rental housing are encountering mostly closed waitlists for the Housing Choice Voucher program across the state, a new report shows.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development operates the Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides rental assistance to low-income families and is administered locally by public housing authorities (PHAs).
Of the 71 PHAs with active Housing Choice Voucher programs in Illinois, 51, or 72 percent, have closed voucher waitlists, according to the report from Housing Action Illinois and the Social IMPACT Research Center.
"This means that people in need of affordable rental housing in most every part of Illinois do not have the opportunity to even get in line to secure a federally-funded subsidy that would alleviate their poverty and put their household in a better position to thrive," the report authors wrote.
The national homeownership rate continued its downward trend in 2014 as the share of U.S. renter households reached its highest level in 20 years, according to the annual State of the Nation's Housing report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. A record number of U.S. renters are also facing housing cost burdens, the new research showed.
For the 10th straight year, the national homeownership rate dropped in 2014, falling to 64.5 percent. The rate ticked down to an even lower 63.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
The number of U.S. owner-occupied households fell for the eighth consecutive year in 2014, dropping by 233,000.
"Perhaps the most telling indicator of the state of the nation's housing is the drop in the homeownership rate to just 64.5 percent last year," the Joint Center for Housing Studies's Managing Director Chris Herbert said in a statement. "This erases nearly all of the increase from the previous two decades. In fact, the number of homeowners fell for the eighth straight year, and the trend does not appear to be abating."
Low-wage school custodians from Elgin, Wheaton, Rockford and other areas picketed outside of the Illinois Association of School Boards conference in Chicago Friday morning, demanding paid holiday and sick days.
Chanting "Hey, District U46. Your low wages make us sick," the custodians, hired by school district contractors and represented by SEIU* Local 1, also called for better pay and health benefits.
"We want to show (school board officials) that we're not happy with what they pay to our custodians," Carolina Villalobos, an SEIU Local 1 organizer, said outside of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where the conference was held.
Despite areas of improvement, however, the report found that homeownership rates are still trending downward, low-income households face persistent challenges finding affordable housing and millions of Americans continue to grapple with high housing costs.
An anti-abortion organization that operates an ultrasound bus for pregnant women can continue providing services out of a mobile unit in Elgin now that it has reached a settlement with the north suburban city involving zoning regulations.
An anti-abortion group that operates an ultrasound bus for pregnant women can continue parking its mobile service unit in Elgin now that a federal judge has found the city's zoning law unconstitutional.