Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle recently issued a proclamation to join House America: An All-Hands-on-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis, a federal initiative launched in October in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
By participating, the County joins a national partnership of mayors, city and county leaders, tribal nation leaders, and governors. House America will utilize American Rescue Plan investments to address the crisis of homelessness through a Housing First approach.
“Cook County is proud to join House America and pledges to respond with urgency to homelessness by setting and achieving ambitious re-housing and housing creation goals,” said Preckwinkle. “Cook County has prioritized ensuring that all residents have a safe and affordable place to live through our work with HUD and USICH and will use the American Rescue Plan and other resources to make progress toward ending homelessness.”
The proclamation outlines Cook County’s pledge to work with partners including the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), the Cook County Land Bank Authority, and the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County by re-housing 1,000 households and developing at least 800 units of new supportive and affordable housing by Dec. 31, 2022. To meet this goal, the County and allied agencies will leverage Federal resources including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, project-based vouchers (PBVs), and the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Cook County,” stated Xochitl Flores, Cook County Bureau of Economic Development Bureau chief. “And a lack of housing remains a barrier to the health, safety, well-being, employment, and education of residents and families. Our pledge to join the House America initiative will continue to further housing as a human right.”
“Together, we can prevent and end homelessness in this country,” said James A. Cunningham, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator for the Midwest. “HUD and USICH, working with President Preckwinkle and Cook County partners, are going to play our part to make it happen through House America.”
House America proposes that the most effective approach to solving homelessness is the Housing First approach, which entails identifying and assisting households experiencing homelessness to obtain permanent housing quickly – without treatment or sobriety pre-conditions and with few to no barriers – through housing counseling and navigation assistance, tailored levels of rental assistance, and/or wrap-around supportive services, as needed.
“Housing is the cornerstone of a healthy and stable life,” said HACC Executive Director Rich Monocchio. “Every individual in Cook County, no matter their circumstances, deserves a safe and secure place to sleep at night. HACC is a strong supporter of the Housing First approach, and we believe that expanding the County’s supply of affordable housing is the only way to address the continuing crisis of homelessness in our community.”
House America provides communities with the focus, resolve, and technical know-how needed to deploy these resources to maximize impact. To find out more about House America, go to http://www.hud.gov/house_america. To contact the County, log on to www.cookcountyil.gov.