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 report, which comes on the heels of the War on Poverty's 50th anniversary, also shows that 388,000 Illinoisans still live in poverty despite having someone in their household who works full-time.
“Today, the jobs that are available at the low-skilled end of the economy simply don’t provide wages and benefits that create economic security,” Social IMPACT Research Center Director Amy Terpstra said in a statement. “What this means is that, in Illinois, you can work full time and still be living in poverty.”
Since 1960, the number of working age Illinois men and women in poverty has increased, poverty rates have barely changed for African Americans and Latinos, and women are still more likely to be poor than men, the report showed.