How We Started

History.

HCP of Illinois, Inc. is a private non-profit organization created in 1995 by the Chicago-area fair housing community with an initial mission of promoting racial and economic diversity in the housing choice voucher program in suburban Cook County. Fair housing advocates noted the extreme poverty concentrations and racial segregation developing in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program in southern Cook County, a pattern similar to that in the city, and the group sought a resolution to the problem.  (Click here to see the Racial and Locational Patterns of Subsidized Housing in the Chicago Suburbs by Paul Fischer detailing the discriminatory patterns of subsidized housing in the Chicago suburbs.)

The solution was an HCP administered “mobility” program for the Housing Authority of Cook County. HCP operated the program for eight years after which the program was moved in-house. Over 800 families moved to opportunity areas as a result of the program.

Work with the Chicago Housing Authority.

In 2003, HCP began work with the CHA, assisting with the relocation of public housing residents who chose to move under The Plan for Transformation using a housing choice voucher (HCV). HCP worked with approximately 1000 families providing mobility services to all of them. HCP currently is a sub-contractor with the CHA for their regular mobility program. In its first year of service, HCP assisted over 300 families to move to low poverty or opportunity areas.

Advocacy and creation of the State of Illinois Rental Housing Support Program.

In addition to its core mobility work, HCP has been active in advocacy, working with other organizations to develop better programs and policies to encourage affordable housing in areas of opportunity. For example, HCP helped to get the Illinois Housing Opportunity Area Abatement Program passed in 2005. That program provides tax abatement to landlords who rent to voucher clients in opportunity areas.

HCP also worked to help shape the State’s Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP) which is a state-funded rent subsidy program similar to the federal voucher program. Very few states in the country provide housing subsidy programs so Illinois is in the forefront nationally on this issue.

HCP is a Local Administering Agency (LAA) for subsidized units in the suburban Cook County RHSP. Seventy units of subsidized housing are located in over 40 different communities with over 50 different landlords as a result of HCP’s outreach and unit identification. Nearly 200 individuals are currently housed in these units with HCP acting as a housing authority in administering the program.

HCP works with the National Low income Housing Coalition, the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Housing Action Illinois and others to move the agenda for fair and affordable housing forward.

Consulting.

HCP has worked with a number of housing authorities to set up new mobility programs including the Rockford, Il, and Port Arthur, Texas, Housing Authorities. Five new mobility programs were also set up in the Chicago region. to help develop its program and is currently working in a consulting capacity with Port Arthur, Texas on creating its mobility program.

Research.

HCP is currently researching the outcomes for the families that it has placed over the years for both the Chicago and Cook County Housing Authorities to determine how many of the clients remain in opportunity areas and what does that mean for these families.

Special Projects.

At various times, HCP has also participated in special projects including homeownership and foreclosure counseling.

The Chicago Regional Housing Choice Initiative (CRHCI).

HCP’s current priority is a HUD-funded regional demonstration, a first of its kind.

The CRHCI is a partnership among eight public housing authorities (PHAs), HUD, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and HCP to expand housing choice in the region. The eight participating PHAs are Chicago, Cook, McHenry, Lake, Oak Park, Waukegan and Joliet. CRHCI involves testing new strategies around tenant based and project based vouchers, and coordinating portability within the region.

Due in large part to the Regional Demo and other initiatives, HCP has undergone some major changes -growing from an organization of 5 to 22 people. HCP has undertaken a strategic planning process (see link), hired an Assistant Director and expanded its Board.

The organization is poised to move to the next level as a leader in strategies to impact generational poverty through moves to opportunity areas.