Cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development due to the Federal sequester will result in Illinois losing $45.3 Million dollars in funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This translates in to 4592 few families receive access to housing assistance this year. In Cook County alone, 700 families will miss out on access to affordable housing from the Cook County Housing Authority. In addition to funding to the Voucher program, Illinois is set to lose $4.9 million in homeless assistance, $2.1 million in affordable housing development, and $372,000 in housing for people with AIDS.
- HUD: Federal Sequester Will Cause Illinois 4500 Fewer Families to Receive Housing, Maudlyne Ihekirka, The Chicago Sun-Times, 3/18/2013
The CTA recently unveiled their plan for the partnership with Ventra to overhaul the pay system for the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace transportation systems in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Ventra will provide the option of setting the transit card up as a prepaid debit card that has fees for everything from calling customer service to reloading cash to the card online. This follows news that the cost of single-ride cards will go up to $3.00, versus the $2.25 fare for members holding the Ventra card. This higher rate for single-fare rides is likely to fall on low-income transit riders that don't pay the $5 fee for the Ventra card, or the homeless population that do not have an address to send the card to. High fees on prepaid cards are common across the debit card industry, and are often referred to as a predatory product due to companies targeting low-income consumers, and consumers that will not necessarily read the fine print.
- CTA's Ventra Debit Option Rife With Fees, John Hilkevitch, The Chicago Tribune, 3/20/2013
Two surveys were conducted recently by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research sampling 1606 workers earning $35,000 or less annually, and another survey polling 1487 employers of workers making under $35,000 annually. The surveys found that over half of workers were "not too" or "not at all" confident that their jobs would help them achieve their long-term career goals. At the same time, 44% of employers said that they find it difficult to recruit people with the needed skills or experiences to do lower-wage jobs. Not only are workers feeling like they can't achieve long-term career goals, but 71% worry a lot or some that they can't afford to pay their bills, 54% are worried they will lose their job, and 53% are concerned about keeping up with their mortgage or rent.
- Survey: Low-wage workers gloomy about future, Tom Raum and Jennifer Agiesta, The Chicago Sun-Times, 3/20/2013
Advocates from the "Keep Chicago Renting" campaign are pushing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to protect renters in foreclosed units. The coalition is negotiating with the Mayor's Office on a measure proposed by 33rd Ward Alderman Richard Mell that would ban evictions of renters in foreclosed buildings, with exceptions, including if the tenant fails to pay rent. 9% of Chicago's rental housing stock went in to foreclosure from 2009-2011. This includes 17,000 Chicago apartment buildings, or 52,000 rental units.
- Advocates push Emanuel to protect renters in foreclosed units, Chip Mitchell, WBEZ Chicago, 3/20/2013