Local Issues Director: Joyce Hothan, The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn
Our chapter of the League follows major issues of interest to our membership; each area is the responsibility of a local issues director. They track legislation and items of particular timely interest. Our Observer Corps attends meetings to report back to the board and members on key issues.
LATEST REPORT: NOVEMBER, 2017
Housing Action Illinois Annual Conference “Housing Matters”
October 26 and 27, 2017 Bloomington, Illinois
On behalf of the League, I attended this conference as a board member of HAI and also in my position as Social Policy Chair for League. As a statewide coalition of more than 160 members, including nonprofit organizations, government agencies and corporations, HAI is committed to protecting and expanding the availability of quality affordable housing throughout Illinois. Their main work centers on policy advocacy, public education and organizing, training and consulting.
Workshops at the conference included a variety of topics from housing discrimination, credit building, opportunities for public housing authorities, the mortgage delivery system, voting, immigration rights, the Affordable Care Act, and many more.
The Keynote Address: The Value of Homes for Health was given by Dr. Megan Sandel of Children’s Health Watch in Boston. Her findings, based on extensive research, show that where you live affects your entire life. Being behind on rent or one’s mortgage can lead to difficult choices of buying food or medicine or visiting a doctor. Chronic stress based on housing insecurity can lead to depression and a wide range of health and developmental delays, which can last a lifetime.
The foundation of a quality, stable, affordable home can act as a vaccine. Living near a park can make it easier to exercise, having a grocery store nearby can provide the opportunity to buy and cook fresh produce. Providing good homes can then be a powerful upstream intervention tool to create healthy, thriving communities. Instability in housing can lead to high “churn rates” in schools,” stress and social-behavioral issues with children and the impact on a mom’s physical and mental health.
Dr. Sandel made a strong case for building bridges with hospitals and other health care organizations in order to focus an investment into affordable housing, providing a major impact on the number of “chronic users” of health care systems and on the overall health improvements in communities. Health system providers need to be part of housing boards and vice versa to stimulate more investment from this sector as well as a better understanding of the intersection of these issues.
The federal government is making massive cuts in the HUD budget so there is an even stronger need on a local level to forge new partnerships especially related to financial investments in housing.