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Heartland Alliance's Illinois Poverty Update indicates that millions of people in Illinois are experiencing poverty or are on the cusp. Rooted in inequity, poverty prevents people from meeting basic needs, improving their quality of life, and creates barriers to opportunities including quality education, stable employment, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. The update sheds light on who is most likely to experience poverty in Illinois: Women, people of color, and children have the highest poverty rates.In addition to the Illinois Poverty Update, Heartland Alliance also released state legislative district poverty fact sheets.These releases are the first of a series Heartland Alliance is publishing on poverty in Illinois this year. Local- and county-level data books will be published this summer, and an in-depth exploration of the forces that contribute to gender-based poverty inequity will be released in the fall.
This webinar outlined the current and potential threats to basic assistance programs with a specific focus on work requirements; provided an on-the-ground perspective about how imposing work requirements in exchange for basic supports will hurt low-income individuals and especially people of color; and shared communications tools and tactics for how to reframe the work requirements narrative and advocate for positive strategies to end chronic unemployment and poverty.Moderator: Melissa Young of Heartland Alliance's National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity Panelists: Elizabeth Lower-Basch of Center on Law and Social Policy, Ronald Johnson of Heartland Alliance Health, and Rebecca Vallas of Center for American Progress
Illinois is among the first states in the nation to pass retirement savings legislation in the form of Secure Choice. With the implementation of Secure Choice, workers in Illinois at qualifying businesses without access to an employment-based retirement plan will be automatically enrolled in a retirement savings program. An estimated 1.3 million Illinoisans who currently do not have access to workplace retirement plans will be potentially impacted by Secure Choice. As Illinois moves toward Secure Choice implementation, however, there are a number of key questions that should be answered to help ensure that the program is addressing barriers to participation, especially among low-income workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color. This research is aimed at better understanding these barriers.
Chicago is currently facing a devastating surge in lethal violence in addition to staggering rates of poverty across Illinois. Policymakers and community leaders are struggling with finding short- and long-term solutions to stem the violence and allow neighborhoods to heal. In the meantime, communities are fearing for their own safety and grieving over lost parents, children, friends, and leaders every day. The stakes forgetting the solutions right could not be higher. Poverty and violence often intersect, feed one another, and share root causes. Neighborhoods with high levels of violence are also characterized by high levels of poverty, lack of adequate public services and educational opportunity, poorer health outcomes, asset and income inequality, and more. The underlying socioeconomic conditions in these neighborhoods perpetuate both violence and poverty. Furthermore, trauma can result from both violence and poverty. Unaddressed trauma worsens quality of life, makes it hard to rise out of poverty by posing barriers to success at school and work, and raises the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way, untreated trauma—coupled with easy gun availability and other factors—feeds the cycle of poverty and violence.
Poverty among children more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 (from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022), according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)1 released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This the largest year-over-year poverty rate increase on record among individuals aged 17 years and younger. Children were hardest hit due, in large part, to the lapse of the Child Tax Credit; however, across all ages gains made from COVID-related assistance in 2021 were lost in 2022. In Illinois, there are over 4 million Illinoisans experiencing poverty, with over 760,000 Illinoisans living in extreme poverty. In 2022 census results, poverty rates for children and communities of color - similar to national trends - remain dramatically higerh than the overall rate.
The COVID-19 Aftermath: What the Unwinding of Federal Pandemic Emergency Declarations Can Mean for IllinoisansJune 27, 2023
On May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration ended the COVID-19 national emergency, marking a turning point for many extended and newly developed public benefits that occurred during, and in response to, the pandemic. Programs such as Medicaid, health insurance coverage for low-income individuals and families, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), were modified and/or expanded available benefits to meet the growing needs of the nation, particularly individuals living on the verge of poverty.In the midst of the pandemic, Heartland Alliance released a signature report on the domino effect caused by COVID-19, outlining how losing one support can cause others to crumble away for those already living on the edge when disaster strikes. While the pandemic-driven domino effect continues, we examine the additional repercussions caused by changes to public programs that were optimized during the pandemic, and that millions have become reliant upon.This report will explore the pandemic aftermath, with a specific focus on public benefit programs for individuals who are living in poverty or on the verge of poverty. We will examine how communities of color in Illinois have been particularly affected by the pandemic regarding health and economic well-being, and what implications changes to COVID-19 era benefits, specifically as it pertains to healthcare and food assistance, mean for Illinoisans.Findings from this report will expand on an overarching theme. Inequities, as it pertains to people of color, are pervasive, have worsened, and will likely continue to significantly increase post-pandemic.
Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in IllinoisOctober 7, 2022
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, including eligibility requirements and sanction procedures, create barriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at Heartland Alliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalitionfor the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.
Executive Summary - Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in IllinoisOctober 7, 2022
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, includingeligibility requirements and sanction procedures, createbarriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at HeartlandAlliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood JohnsonFoundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.
Poverty rates increased and household incomes were stagnant inIllinois from 2019 to 2021. This data reflects 2021, when COVID-19 pandemic-related government assistance provided some relief, suggesting that the financial picture is likely much worse today.
Sharing Data Across Systems: Leveraging Homeless Service and Public Workforce Systems Data to Support Jobseekers Experiencing HomelessnessNovember 30, 2021
Employment success and housing stability go hand in hand. Although the public workforce and homeless service systems both serve homeless and unstably housed jobseekers, these systems work in silos in many communities. Collaboration is critical for these two systems to achieve their interrelated goals.One promising systems collaboration strategy is cross-system data sharing. This resource provides an overview of data sharing, explains how it can be used to better understand and meet the needs of workforce and homeless service populations in your community, and lifts up how Chicago and Detroit have successfully operationalized this strategy.
These comments were provided in response to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness' request for feedback on the revised Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. In crafting our response, staff from Heartland Alliance's Impact Division gathered input from 17 staff members across the Alliance's companies, including staff with lived experience of homelessness, staff working directly with adults and youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and staff working on policy and systems-level solutions to prevent and end homelessness.
Across the country, Goodwill rapidly engages economically marginalized jobseekers with employment, using subsidized jobs programs and other workforce development strategies. Based in Atlanta and the surrounding metro area, Goodwill of North Georgia's subsidized jobs program, operating since 1925, connects jobseekers to immediate, wage-paid employment, paired with a contextualized learning environment and individualized supportive services. This program spotlight discusses Goodwill of North Georgia's subsidized jobs model and its impact and calls for federal investments in subsidized jobs to support jobseekers facing structural barriers to employment. Goodwill of North Georgia's headquarters is located in the 4th Congressional district of Georgia. The representative for this district is Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (D). The Senators for Georgia are Senators Raphael Warnock (D) and Senator Jon Ossoff (D).
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