CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) teamed up today with the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance to kick-off Fair Housing Month with a discussion about the timely topic of: Opportunity Mapping: because where you live matters. Today’s panel is one of a series of events that will be held around the state as part of Fair Housing Month, which commemorates the 44th anniversary of the passage of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act. This year also marks the 33rd anniversary of the Illinois Human Rights Act, which is administered by IDHR and bars discrimination in housing.
In a proclamation declaring April as Fair Housing Month in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn said: “The talents of grassroots and non-profit organizations, housing service providers, housing professionals, financial institutions, elected officials, state agencies and others must be combined to promote and preserve integration, fair housing and equal opportunity; and address the immense challenge of ensuring that every person in Illinois has access to affordable housing.”
“IDHR is committed throughout the year to carrying out its duty to fight discrimination in housing and other areas,” said IDHR Director Rocco Claps. “Fair Housing Month gives us an opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made and work with housing advocates and stakeholders to ensure that we are using our resources as effectively as possible.”
In the panel discussion today at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, housing advocates and researchers discussed the concept of “opportunity housing.” This innovative approach to housing and community development emphasizes how housing interacts with other important public policy factors such as public education, economic mobility, public health, the environment, and neighborhood stability to affect the overall quality of life.
The panelists discussed a report on the implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher program (formerly known as the Section 8 program) in Illinois. The report was prepared by the Illinois Assisted Housing Action Research Project, a partnership between Housing Action Illinois, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Policy Law, and UIC’s Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood & Community Improvement. The new report defines the concept of “opportunity” for the region and provides guidance for mapping opportunity areas.
Throughout Fair Housing Month, IDHR will be partnering with the Chicago Mexican Consulate and other organizations to conduct outreach and education on housing issues.
Following are some additional Fair Housing Month events scheduled this month:
• April 16 and 17: Governor’s Affordable Housing Conference (sponsored by the Illinois Housing Development Authority) at Navy Pier, Chicago.
• April 17: 10:30 a.m.: HUD/Community Action Fair Housing Round Table in Chicago.
• April 18 and 19: IDHR Annual Fair Housing Event in Springfield:
o Day 1: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Legislative Advocacy Training in Springfield.
o Day 2: 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m: Legislative Breakfast.
• 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Fair Housing Expo in the Capitol (open to community partners).
• 12 noon: Fair Housing program and reading of Governor’s proclamation
For more information about IDHR and Fair Housing Month events, go to: http://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Pages/default.aspx