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Poverty rates and household incomes improved in Illinois in 2019. However, this data reflects conditions from the last year before a global pandemic and related recession--meaning the picture is likely much worse today. And even before the 2020 recession, millions of Illinoisans--especially people of color--lived in poverty or on the brink.The poverty rate for the United States was 10.5% in 2019, a decline of 1.3 percentage points from 2018 and the lowest on record. There were 34 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2019, 1.4 million Illinoisans were in poverty--a rate of 11.5%. Additionally, 1.9 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.The data also revealed that health insurance coverage rates declined in Illinois and throughout the nation in 2019, continuing a disturbing trend of eroding the gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), right before a global pandemic and economic recession hit.
Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in IllinoisJune 29, 2020
This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.
Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off. The poverty rate for the United States was 11.8% in 2018, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2017. There were 38.1 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2018, 1.5 million Illinoisans were in poverty—a rate of 12.1%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold. This year marks the first time that the U.S.poverty rate is below pre-recession levels; Illinois lags behind this trend,with its poverty rate just returning to pre-recession levels.
Poverty does not treat everyone equally. Women, children, gender minorities, and people of color are often the hardest hit. And while women in poverty experience the same issues that all people in poverty experience—income inequality, unemployment, poor health, violence, trauma, and more—the odds are often uniquely stacked against them in gendered ways.There are 6.5 million women. and an estimated 50,000 trans people living in Illinois. They are a driving force in our economy and care for our children, sick, and elderly, and yet continue to face discrimination and inequitable opportunities. This year's annual report on poverty in Illinois shows how gender, gender identity, and gender norms shape experiences of poverty for women and gender minorities—and how women who have other marginalized identities experience even more inequity. If we want to dramatically reduce poverty, improving the well-being of women— particularly women of color—would deliver the biggest return.
Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off.This fact sheet on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage in Illinois and the Chicago region, was created using the Census Bureau's release of local American Community Survey data.The poverty rate for the United States was 12.3% in 2017. There were 39.7 million people in poverty nationwide. The poverty rate is not significantly different from the pre-recession level of 12.5% in 2007. In 2017, 1.6 million Illinoisans were in poverty ─ a rate of 12.6%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.
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.
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.
The Chicago Continuum of Care's (CoC) Employment and Income Task Force developed an intervention, the Employment and Income Navigation Pilot Program, to integrate employment navigators and SSI/SSDI SOAR advocates into the CoC'S Expedited Housing Initiative. The pilot has played a vital role in bringing together the workforce, homelessness, and disability benefits systems. To assess how the program was implemented during its 1st year, we conducted a comprehensive mixed methods evaluation using a combination of primary and secondary data sources. The evaluation brief provides valuable insights into the pilot program's impact and areas for improvement. Key findings revealed supporting jobseekers experiencing homelessness through employment navigators and SOAR advocates is of paramount importance. However, we also found communication obstacles, separate data systems, and the necessity of additional resources for sustainability. We formulated actionable recommendations to enhance the program's impact and offered guidance for future programs and evaluations.
Diversion programs have emerged as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system, particularly for non-violent offenses. The Supporting Education and Employment Development (SEED) program is a 13-month pre-plea deferred-prosecution program, which aims to serve emerging adults, aged 18-26, charged with Delivery or Intent to Deliver in Cook County, Illinois. Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center worked with the SEED team to evaluate the implementation of the SEED program between May 2021 and June 2023. Overall, results of this evaluation show that despite some operational challenges, SEED was implemented smoothly. However, interviewees did indicate there were opportunities for program refinement and additional evaluation. Longer term evaluation of SEED and its effects on both participants and the criminal justice system will take time and requires tracking participants beyond the immediate end of the program.
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.
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