Interagency Working Group on Poverty and Economic Security Agenda and Minutes - 08/25/21

Members and Invited Members in Attendance:

Illinois Department of Human Services - Chairperson, Secretary Grace Hou

Illinois Department of Labor - Legislative Director, Anna Koeppel on Behalf of Director Michael D. Kleinik

Illinois Department of Public Health - Assistant Director, Amaal V.E. Tokars

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity - Deputy Director Office of Policy Development, Planning & Research, Jason Horwitz

Illinois Department of Aging - Director, Paula A. Basta, M.Div.

Illinois Department of Corrections - Chief of Women and Family Services, Tangenise Porter

Illinois Governor's Office of Management and Budget - Deputy Director, Marc Staley

Illinois Housing Development Authority - Special Initiatives Manager, Megan Spitz

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Labor Market Information Director, George W. Putnam

Members and Invited Members Absent:

Illinois State Board of Education - State Superintendent, Carmen Ayala

Illinois Department of Agriculture - Deputy Director Kristi Jones

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services - Administrator Strategic Vendor Relationships Jenny Aguirre

Guests in Attendance:

Illinois Department of Human Services - Senior Public Service Administrator, Dana Kelly

Illinois Department of Human Services- Chief of Staff, Ryan Croke

Illinois Department of Human Services- Senior Policy Advisory, Awisi Bustos

Illinois Department of Human Services- Director, Division of Family and Community Services, Tim Verry

Illinois Department of Human Services - COVID Manager for Immigrant and Refugee Services, Ruth Lopez-McCarthy

Illinois Department of Aging - Senior Policy Analyst, Amy Lulich

Illinois Commission to End Hunger- Colleen Burns

Illinois Housing Development Authority- Senior Policy and Planning Officer, Deonna Wheeler

Governor's Office of Management and Budget - Budget Manager, Emily Howerton

Shriver Center on Poverty Law - Director of Economic Justice, Jeremy Noam Rosen

Heartland Alliance - Kimberly Drew, Legislative Advocacy Director

I. Welcome & Introductions (5 mins)

IDHS Secretary and Chairperson of the Interagency Working Group on Poverty and Economic Insecurity Grace B. Hou started the meeting at 1:30 PM and opened with introductions of members. Each member was asked to answer the question 'What is one new thing you have learned since COVID began that has helped you better serve the people of Illinois?'.

II. Public Participation (5 mins)

  • No requests for public parti received.
  • None presented.

III. Approval of Meeting Minutes (5 mins)

Motion Marc Staley, Second Jason Horowitz

  • September 17, 2020: Unanimously approved.
  • July 30, 2021: Unanimously approved.
  • January 14, 2021: Unanimously approved
  • April 22, 2021: Unanimously approved

IV. Update on Listening Sessions (10 mins)

* Secretary Hou introduced Administrator Kelly to provide an update on the recent listening sessions. Four sessions have been completed. Two were held on the Westside of Chicago, one on the Southside and one in the South suburbs of Chicago.

* The next listening session is scheduled for August 26th and will be held in the greater Northwest Illinois region which will include Peoria, Rock Island and Rockford. At the end of September another session will be held in Cairo, IL in Alexander County. In October, a session will be held in Dekalb with Norther Illinois University (NIU) and the date for the Champaign session is still being finalized. We have been legislatively mandated to hold six sessions, but due to the interest and involvement thus far, we have now been asked to hold eight sessions.

* From the four sessions we have held so far, we have had the following:

1. 412 zoom participants

2. Over 65 in-person participants

3. 273 incentive applicants

4. 18 Community Co-sponsors

* Questions asked at each Session:

  • What are the unique challenges that face your community?
  • What do you feel can be done to address these challenges/inequities and positively impact your community?
  • What sort of programs or interventions have you observed that have worked to improve the lives of your neighbors?
  • Are there programs that you think aren't working well that should be revised or discontinued?
  • How can the state foster a welcoming and inclusive home for immigrants of all kinds?*

*Asked at two sessions - Westside 2 and Greater Northwest

* What we have learned:


  • No Community Investment - Money Does Not Stay in Community
  • Affordable Home Ownership
  • Foreclosures and Abandoned Properties
  • Discriminatory Lending Structures
  • No Access to Capital - Understanding of Financial Management
  • Food Deserts
  • Jobs: Low Wages, Harsh Hours/Conditions, No Sick Time
  • Public Safety and Gun Violence
  • Disparate Educational Resources Between Low Income and Wealthy Communities
  • Lack of Sensitivity to the Needs of the Immigrant Community
  • High Property Taxes in Low Income Municipalities
  • No Youth Opportunities - Youth Turn to Streets
  • Lack of Transportation Outside of City
  • No Major Industry/ Large Employers


  • Need for Cash Assistance (No Strings Attached) - Effective
  • Support for Informal Employment- Personal Business Owners - Access to Capital
  • Funding for Early Education Including Ages 0-3
  • Black and Brown Owned Businesses
  • Consolidation of Taxing Districts
  • Trade Schools - Advanced Training
  • Entrepreneurial and promotional training, home ownership education, financial courses
  • Invest in Abandoned Public Spaces - Community Gardens
  • Trauma Informed Mental Health Resources - Youth MH, Domestic Violence, Substance Use Disorders

Effective Programming

  • Non-Police Crisis Response
  • Community Land Trusts
  • Strengthening Requirements for Banking Community Investments
  • Support for Community Collectives
  • Support for Local Block Clubs
  • Year Up: Job Training
  • Neighborhood Opportunity Funds
  • Business Incubators
  • Neighborhood Housing Co-ops
  • Transit Subsidies
  • Major Economic Engines - i.e. Airport in Southland

* DHS wants to partner with a research institution to help us process the qualitative feedback and crystalize our conclusions. DHS would also like to receive additional stakeholder feedback from the Governor's Office/General Assembly, Local Elected Officials, Business Community, CBO Provider Community and Commission members.

* DHS is working on identifying an academic research partner as a lot of the work is data centric.

V. Update on Strategic Planning Process (10 minutes)

Statutory Requirements for Inclusion:

  • Safe and affordable housing
  • Adequate food and nutrition
  • Affordable and quality health care
  • Quality education and training
  • Affordable post-secondary education options
  • Dependable and affordable transportation
  • Quality and affordable childcare
  • Meaningful and sustainable work that pays a living wage
  • Equal access to justice
  • Adequate income supports
  • Retirement security
  • Youth engagement

Additional Statutory Direction:

  • Base on Two Generational Approach
  • Base on Data and Best Practice Research
  • Develop Short-term, Intermediate-Term, and Long-Term Benchmarks Including One or More State Poverty Measures
  • Improve Collaboration Between State Agencies and Local Governments
  • Ensure Inclusion of Community Based Organizations
  • Utilize Public and Private Partnerships and Social Impact Bonds
  • Evaluate Current Program Enrollment and Eligibility Limitations
  • Improve Public Awareness and Participation in Anti-Poverty Initiatives

* Framework:

o Administrative Impact: Existing/available funding; Federal Program Administration and Eligibility; Executive Action and Regulation

o Legislative Impact: Statutory changes; Budget allocation; Taxation

o Collaborative Impact (Public Private Partnership): Philanthropic Partnership; Corporate Social Responsibility; Innovation and Technology

* Policy Areas:

  • Childhood (Early Intervention, Child Care Supports, Primary/Secondary Education, etc.)
  • Midlife (Living Wage/Pay Disparities, Affordable Housing/Access to Home Ownership, etc.)
  • Senior (Healthcare affordability/debt, Medicare/Medicaid Policy, Food insecurity, etc.)

VI. Breakout Sessions Strategic Plan Elements (45 minutes)

  • Group 1:
  • Looking at programs that can be supported for lifelong financial planning
  • Look at model programs including DCFS Early Childhood Court Pilot
  • Looking at home ownership programs (e.g. rent to own models)
  • What are best practices that we want to continue?
  • Mentorship programs
  • Ways to improve sharing data and monitor outcomes across agencies
  • Living wage legislation, taxation rate
  • Build in some flexibility to workforce development funding
  • Look into how we can align philanthropic dollars with what we are pursuing at the State level
  • Partner more with advocacy organizations; Subsidized work opportunities; Technology partnerships to make services more accessible
  • Group 2:
  • Promote the trades; Look at the cost benefit business analysis of a four-year degree
  • Looking in the criminal justice system for pre-release skills assessments; What are the inmates prepared for? What skills could the attain?
  • Food insecurity: Pharmaceutical issues (e.g. The only store we can go to right now is the Dollar Store, which does not have a pharmacy.)
  • Personal finance education with ISBE
  • Cost of living

VII. Other Updates (5 minutes)

* Staff Policy Working Group Progress

  • Hunger Commission
    • Roadmap to End Hunger
  • Illinois Housing Help is active

VIII. Next Steps/Next Meeting (5 minutes)

Action Items:

  • Send or share additional feedback (Now)
  • Participate in coming public hearings (Now - October 2021)
  • Join or continue to participate in Staff Level Working Group

* The next meeting will be held in November 2021

IX. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned by Jason Horwitz and seconded by Anna Koeppel at 2:58pm.