New Illinois bill increases number of low-income families eligible for housing assistance


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

An apartment building in Evanston. Illinois House Bill 648 will make more tenants eligible for rent subsidies.

Iris Swarthout, Assistant Campus Editor

More Illinois families may now qualify for housing assistance following the passage of Illinois House Bill 648, which went into effect Jan. 1. 

The bill provides rent subsidies to a broader range of low-income families across the state. Rep. Denyse Stoneback (D-Chicago) introduced the bill as a provision to the Rental Housing Support Program Act, which originally dedicated half of the program’s resources to those below 30% of their local area’s median income and the other half for those at or below the 15% mark.

“The issue arises when some people are put at risk of losing their eligibility in the program when they just slightly surpass the 30% AMI mark,” Stoneback told The Daily in an email.

Evanston’s AMI is $91,200, but non-Evanston residents can use this tool to calculate their area’s median income. 

Stoneback said HB 648 ensures flexibility for those families that currently make just enough money to be ineligible for RHSP assistance. The new bill extends the income mark to 40% of the area median income for program members, according to the Illinois General Assembly website. 

HB 648 amends RHSP by allocating half of the housing grant funds to be set aside for existing program families with an income mark of 25% of AMI, rather than the previous 15%.

Also included in the new legislation is House Committee Amendment No. 1, which stipulates previously enrolled tenants who reach the 35% of AMI income mark can begin a 12-month transitional period out of the program.

“This bill … will allow the RHSP program greater flexibility in helping this at-risk population,” Stoneback wrote.

Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) co-sponsored the bill. In an email to The Daily, she said she backed this legislation in hopes of helping low-income Black and brown communities in the face of the pandemic.

“Housing is a human right, and as legislators, we must prioritize providing financial relief to those struggling so that we can rely on them to get back to work, take care of their children, and protect themselves against sickness,” Ammons said.

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Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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