March 14, 2024, The Illinois Interagency Task Force on Homelessness

The Illinois Interagency Task Force on Homelessness

March 14, 2024

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM


  1. Welcome & Roll Call
  2. Zoning & Impacts on Shelter/PSH Development
    1. Kate Ansorge & Jessica Nepomiachi, IFF
    2. Andrew Winter, Cornerstone Community Outreach
  3. FY25 Home Illinois Proposed Budget
    1. All agencies report
  4. Home Illinois - FY25 & FY26
    1. Feedback from community listening sessions
    2. Process for agencies to submit commitments for the new plan
  5. Public Comment
  6. Office to Prevent & End Homelessness Updates
    1. Community Advisory Council on Homelessness: Site Visits
    2. Home Illinois Senior Policy Advisors
    3. Home Illinois Workforce Pilot
    4. Racial Equity Roundtables
    5. Home Illinois Summit
    6. Evicted ExhibitClosing
  7. Closing

Meeting Minutes:

  1. Welcome & Roll Call
    1. Agenda overview 
    2. Task Force Members Present: 
      • Christine Haley, Office to Prevent & End Homelessness 
      • Kristin Richards, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity 
      • Dulce Quintero, Illinois Department of Human Services 
      • Marc Staley, Governor's Office of Management & Budget 
      • Jeff Aranowski, Illinois State Board of Education 
      • Carrie Thomas, Illinois Department of Employment Security 
      • Jennifer Epstein, Illinois Department of Public Health 
      • Glenda Corbett, Illinois Department of Aging 
      • Gabriela Maloney, Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services 
      • Kristin Faust, Illinois Housing Development Authority 
      • Ashley Lewis, Illinois Board of Higher Education 
      • Delrice Adams, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority 
      • Elizabeth Whitehorn, Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services 
    3. Guests asked to check in through the chat. 
  2. Zoning & Impacts on Shelter/PSH Development 
    1. Kate Ansorge & Jessica Nepomiachi, IFF Presentation: IFF is a nonprofit that works in the intersection of facilities and financing for nonprofits. We have been working with emergency housing and shelter operations for most of the 30 plus years we have been around. Zoning is a real barrier when working with emergency housing operators. 
      1. Zoning has always been a challenge for emergency housing but is particularly challenging currently. A lot of municipalities have ARPA funding from the government and are distributing that to support emergency housing. We are working with the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, IHDA, City of Chicago, and the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness/SHPA. We see a lot of funding coming in for emergency housing. With the new arrivals there has been a lot of conversations and interest, amongst the residents, in what shelters look like within communities. 
      2. Local government use a zoning ordinance to determine what development can be built on a parcel of land. Municipalities typically conduct a zoning review at the time of a building permit application to determine if the proposed program is allowed under the zoning designation. Most municipalities require a special use approval for emergency housing programs to operate. Emergency housing operators can review a local zoning code to identify whether the code allow the proposed program. Operators may need to review limits on temporary stays, unrelated individual depending on their program, limited use of the program (e.g., max 4 weeks a year). 
      3. If you pursue a special use, the process begins with an application filing, issue notice letters to residents around your project, typically present your project at public hearing, and the zoning board/commission votes. If approved, they may set limits on operations. 
      4. Many organizations have gone through the special use process. We have found them to be successful when they work with a zoning attorney. Very important, early on, to meet with residents, elected officials, and to build a collation of supporters. 
      5. When a municipality is unwilling to support a special use, some emergency housing programs operate out of religious institutions as a secondary use, where there is an existing main us. Operators are also typically allowed to rent motel rooms when the motel operator is on-site. These are short-term work-around and limit an operator's ability to invest and make facility improvements and own building. 
      6. Zoning recommendations: Support emergency housing operators during zoning process. Committing government capital and operating funding demonstrates project feasibility. Zoning reform can reduce project costs and speed up project timelines. 
    2. Andrew Winter, Executive Director of Cornerstone Community Outreach: Cornerstone is an Illinois nonprofit that operates shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Cornerstone owns two properties and has gone through the zoning process twice. Our recent experience around zoning was in connection with the Department of Housing's non congregate shelter acquisition project. 
      1. The backstory of Cornerstone's current movement is we have a shelter for men experiencing homelessness, for which we rent a space, in an old church gymnasium. We had been told some years ago that we needed to find a new space because that space was going to be sold. We conducted an extensive property search for 3 years to find a space to lease but encountered lack of support to move a shelter into the various identified spaces or ward. In 2021, we had a conversation with DFS and others around converting old hotels into shelters. In 2022, the Department of Housing, DFS put in an RFP seeking operators who needed a new location, were interested in non-congregant, and had the capacity to pull it off. Cornerstone, alongside others, were selected. 
        1. First property search went well, identifying an old motel on Lincoln Avenue. We signed a LOI to begin the building research process. Cornerstone was responsible for costs (appraisal, condition assessment, environmental, and to retain an attorney) that were not covered by the Department of Housing. In phase two there was benzene found in the soil, so the project came to an end. 
        2. In the new search we looked at about 19 properties in 4 different wards. We have been in uptown since 1989, successfully funded through DFS, and felt supported from the current ward. There happen to be a seller whose property was right across the street from our existing services. It took about 4 months to sign an LOI and there was a tight timeline for due diligence and nonrefundable money. Upon signing the contract, we began communicating with the commercial tenants, developing our community engagement strategy, and instantly received expected commercial tenant and community opposition. As the process continued, we received more intense unanticipated opposition. 
        3. As we neared the end to the due diligence period, the timing of the zoning was very unique. We didn't have a sense of being able to go into zoning because we had to fit within that due diligence period. We didn't have a lot of flexibility from the seller. We had about a 4-hour hearing that resulted in a denial of special use. There is a 1 year waiting period to apply for another, so the project became dead to Cornerstone because of the grant funding limitations. 
        4. Soon there was opposition questioning if Cornerstone was in breach of their zoning at other properties. And there were, due to language that denies men who weren't in a family from staying in the overnight warming center, which was for both women and men. The overnight shelter was shut down. Also was an issue around zoning that refused shelter stay for individuals who have substance use disorders, which was written in 2003 before marijuana was legalized and there was more insight on substance abuse disorders. 
        5. This process costed approximately 120 thousand dollars just to be told no. Which is essentially half a year's budget for the men's shelter. The cost that the operators have to carry to get to a place for zoning is enormous. 
        6. In reference to policy and zoning reform, the 9 neighborhood individuals had the control to block what is essentially the city's policy to create non congregate shelter. It is 1 narrow place where policy is impacted by 4 to 5 zoning people. 
    3. Thank you for sharing this experience, it serves as a very concrete example of some of the impacts when we are trying to meet our intended goals.
    4. Questions: 
      1. Is there technical assistance or support available for those who enter this long intimating process? 
        1. Cornerstone is working with the Department of Housing. They are leaning on history. It comes down to the facilities and funding. For the nonprofit to invest in this, it could literally bankrupt an organization. Technical assistance is available from DOH and DFS. The risk being taken on by the shelter. The risk is too high for us to continue this kind of work. 
        2. IFF is working on behalf of municipalities to provide technical assistance that the nonprofit does not pay for. We have seen projects that are hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is really challenging for nonprofits that have small margins. Other organizations won't pursue projects that would put them at that financial risk. 
      2. Do you have a list of the zoning requirements? Would like to understand the disqualifiers which can be reviewed. Want to better understand the bottleneck for supporting housing. 
        1. Each property has a very specific special use that is negotiated with the community. Some operators may be operating and not know what is in their special use approval. Its scary if someone becomes unhappy with a program you are running, and they do research to find a way to shut the program down based on negotiations from decades ago. 
      3. One of the takeaways is that zoning is a local issue. It is very difficult to create, at the state level, any kind of law that would change local zoning. Has IFF ever researched the steps that the state could take around these challenges? If the state is hamstrung around zoning, it sounds like the best course of action for the state is to fund the organizations. 
        1. Zoning is local. There have been some statewide measures to bring zoning reform. In the state of Washington has done some research on zoning reform efforts. Cam Buckner is doing some research at the state of IL level. We have been working collaboratively with individual municipalities, county commissioners, the Bureau of Economic Development, and other mayors' associations to understand the role of emergency housing program is for a larger region. Many people have assumptions on what shelters look like. 
        2. Part of this project is that the city is investing in this. It is a dichotomy existence where the city is required to provide a certain number of beds and then you bid it out of an organization like Cornerstone. Taking on the debt has an operational impact. It is the city trying to meet their objective but something about it can be address for the predevelopment funding at a higher cost. 
      4. We do have two non-congregate shelters programs that are being launched. One being the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and IDHA non congregate shelter. When supporting transitional and emergency housing these are challenges many will face. So, this is certainly an Interagency problem that we want to be able to understand how we support. 
  3. FY25 Home Illinois Proposed Budget 
    1. All agencies report highlights: 
      1. IDHS Secretary Dulce Quintero: A high level of our proposed budgets are under our division for Family and Community Services. We have 50M to support emergency shelter and transitional housing. We have a 5M increase to 16M for homeless prevention resources. A 1.5M increase to services and shelters supporting young adults and a continuation of new programs created under Home Illinois. A total of 25M for rapid rehousing program. And 12.5M for permanent supportive housing program. Over 3M for shelter diversion programming. 
      2. ICJIA Director Kristin Richards: Will be announcing a 5M program, Home Illinois. It is in partnerships with DHS, the Interagency Task Force with IDHS, and it is intended to connect homelessness to the workforce system. The Urban Shelter Program is out the door. This program is intended to help fund the construction, reconstruction, rehab, acquisition of properties for homeless shelters in urban areas in the state. 
      3. HFS Director Elizabeth Whitehorn: We are moving forward with the 1115 waiver. We are working on a realistic timeline on approval and implementation. Since January we have been working regularly with Federal CMS around the waiver. 
      4. ISBE Jeff Aranowski: We anticipate around a 5M appropriation for McKinney Vento services. We have seven lead area liaison grantees, throughout the state, who coordinate homeless services, supports technical assistants, training and emergency services for student experiencing homelessness. We released a request for proposals for the bipartisan Safer Communities Act that is federally funded. Reviewing health Bill HB5407, would make modifications to the existing state homeless education grant program. It would expand on existing allowance for expenditures to be used for activities to be used for McKinney Vento homeless education purposes, also housing security and homeless prevention. 
      5. IDOA Glenda Corbett: We have requested to increase funding in our case management systems to increase our identification of individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Increasing our funding for home repair program. Most seniors have a need for home repairs. The SB702 Senior Residence Advisory Council look at and research various issues that are affecting seniors who are aging in their home. 
      6. IDPH Jennifer Epstein: Continuing with the Homelessness Mortality and Morbidity Report. Anticipating it being released by June 30th. 
      7. IDES Carrie Thomas: We are almost entirely federally funded. We are a part of the workforce ecosystem and try to support partners who have designed funding for people experiencing homelessness. We have labor market and workforce program information. We are hoping for continued funding to support our data matching pilot workforce that is working with All Chicago to pilot the matching of HMIS data with some of our workforce and labor data. 
      8. IBHE Ashley Lewis: Would like to highlight the 2M in the Governor's budget for IBHE's homelessness response and specifically student housing and security grants. 10 awards of 200,00 were given out. Excited and hoping to continue the work in the fiscal year. 
      9. IHDA Evan Ponder: Have some development on the non-congregant shelter program. We are planning to release a RFA in FY25 using approximately 37M of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Home Funds. 
    2. Home IL Line: We have a 50M proposed increase to Home Illinois. 
  4. Public Comment 
    1. Interested in learning more about what the Interagency Task Force actions are based on the recommendations made by the Community Advisory Council that could be shared. Community advocates are ready and eager to work with the IDHS and IDOC. 
      1. Thank you for your comment. We will make sure that the appropriate staff from IDOC and IDHS receive this feedback directly. 
  5. Home Illinois - FY25 & FY26 
    1. We anticipate using the same framework from FY23-34 that we created. Our plan is due to the Governor and ILGA on June 30th. Focus is needed on interagency collaboration. Agencies will be asked to identify activities to advance the plan over the next two fiscal years. 
    2. Feedback from community listening sessions 
      1. We will provide the key themes from the listening sessions that were held throughout the state. 
      2. Each Director and Chief or Staff/Staff Leader will receive a template which includes: 
        1. Activities and stated progress from FY23 and FY24 Plan. Space to fill in commitments for FY25 & FY26. Templates will be released by March 15th and due to OPEH by April 1st. Meetings with Directors and key staff April 1st - 19th. Agency commitments finalized by April 30th. 
  6. Office to Prevent & End Homelessness Updates 
    1. Community Advisory Council on Homelessness: Site Visits 
      1. CACH is looking for opportunities of engagement between the Task Force and Community Advisory Council on Homelessness. Seeking the input of Task Force members on what communities are you interested in learning more about? What type of housing and/or service area would you like to see? 
        1. Have you tapped in areas such as Pembroke Township (Kankakee County) or Hopkins, IL.? 
          1. No, we have not. 
        2. That is a great area to look into. 
      2. We can also send out a survey to the directors to get more feedback. 
    2. Home Illinois Senior Policy Advisors 
      1. We have our Home Illinois Policy Advisors that have started. Colleen Mahoney will split her time between IDPH and DCEO. Kylon Hooks serves as the IDHS representative. 
    3. HUD Youth Homelessness System Improvement Grant Application 
      1. Two grants from IL: one submitted by Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) and the second submitted by Illinois Office to Prevent and End Homelessness Program. 
    4. Racial Equity Roundtables 
      1. Anticipate the release of the Black Homelessness report in early April. 
      2. Racial Equity roundtable on Latine Homelessness will launch in Spring. Interested roundtable participants, please contact
    5. One System Initiative 
      1. Goal: Create one system of crisis response for persons seeking shelter in Chicago. Vision and purpose include leveraging investments, workforce expansion, and investment in proven models. 
    6. Home Illinois Summit 
      1. June 4th and 5th in Springfield. June 4th will be an afternoon session and reception on public health and homelessness, focus on new IDPH repot on homelessness health and mortality. June 5th is a full day session. 
      2. Contact our office if your agency is interested in participating in a session and/or making a nomination. 
    7. Evicted Exhibit Closing 
      1. Exhibit currently at National Public Housing Museum. Then it will be moving to the Quad Cities. 
  7. Closing

Meeting Recording:

March 14, 2024 Recording