UAct advisor and content contributor, Steven Simpson-Black, approached Sheila early in UAct’s inception wanting to start a Tenant’s Association. Then life got in the way and the effort stalled. In late summer 2018, Steven contacted UAct again and this time the Quality Housing Coalition was born. Still in its early stages, Steven, Sheila, Rebecca Luke and Marcia Dean continue to design and develop the effort.
In Spring 2019 the Quality Housing Coalition met with the Hope Fair Housing Center of Wheaton, Illinois to learn more about the challenges to creating greater housing opportunities for all. Hope Fair Housing Center Executive Director Anne Houghtaling and Outreach Coordinator Kamal Ganjalikhani visited Springfield to present to attendees about the history of the “Fair Housing Act” (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), the impact of “redlining’ on minority communities and housing discrimination laws.
Members have been compiling data on the housing options available in Springfield and analyzing resources from a variety of independent, state and federal entities. QHC has attended meetings with the City of Springfield regarding housing issues and efforts to document the current housing stock available. Quality Housing Coalition were also invited to meet with Helping Hands of Springfield to discuss the proposal for a Health and Housing Center.
In October 2019 QHC members had the opportunity to attend the Housing Action Illinois “Housing Matters!” conference in Bloomington, IL. Advocates attended workshops on topics such as local government and nonprofit partnerships, strategies to attract affordable development, and community education on housing policy as well as enjoying remarks from Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores. QHC members returned to Springfield with a wealth of new knowledge and ideas to share in the next year.
QHC continues to explore avenues to advocate for housing options in Springfield and educate the public about the positive impact of a well maintained and varied housing stock.
In October 2015, UAct hosted a meeting of 28 nonprofit and community leaders with IFF to explore opportunities for community and economic development assistance in Springfield. Follow-up meetings with IFF and 75 community participants hosted by UAct over two days in December, 2015 focused on affordable housing, healthy food access, arts/culture and more. UAct continues to work with IFF and local partners, exploring affordable housing options and healthy food access in East Springfield.
As a founding Board member of genHkids, UAct President facilitated a dialogue about working more closely together. Those conversations led to a partnership to revitalize genH’s community garden at Poplar Place.
Team REAP and FCC participated in the Garden Work Day kick-off event on July 19, 2018 that featured genH-sponsored salsa and dip making, a bee hive and educational presentation by George Sinclair and seed bomb making with Rebbeca Luke. REAP members Aaron Pinkston-El and DeAndre Neal helped maintain the garden and conducted community outreach to promote the effort. REAP support staff Sara Jacobs coordinated event logistics.
UAct will continue to partner with genH in 2019 at to promote “eating real” and “moving more.”
In 2016, UAct and community activist, Sam Johnson, hosted IFF and affordable housing specialists, McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), for a day-long meeting with the Mayor and community leaders. UAct hopes to continue discussions to craft a vision and action plan for East Springfield Development.