Like so many other facets of our daily lives, the coronavirus has impacted the way that communities engage with one another. We are all still learning how we can now safely and responsibly meet, interact, and learn about one another. The work of the IHDA has continued throughout the pandemic and will be more important than ever as it provides relief to help ensure that families and individuals can remain in their homes despite economic uncertainty. However, traveling throughout the state to meet and engage with community residents was completely stopped during the spring of 2020, and will likely look new and different in the months to come even as our state begins to open again.

When the Housing Blueprint was first developed in early March of 2020, the coronavirus had not yet spread so widely across Illinois. As a plan developed based upon the principle of extensive community engagement, the Housing Blueprint had to reimagine how its process would prioritize and provide ample opportunity for residents to participate in the plan’s development during the pandemic. Originally, the Blueprint had built in virtual engagement through its website, Statewide Resident Survey, and had planned an extensive “Listening Tour” throughout the state to hold various in-person meetings within communities in all geographic areas of Illinois. This tour, originally planned for Summer 2020, has been delayed due to coronavirus, however, is still a critical component within the Housing Blueprint. With our state beginning to reopen, IHDA is currently coordinating its Blueprint Listening Tour for late summer and fall of this year, and will accommodate virtual as well as in-person attendance options to be as mindful of peoples’ safety and comfort.

Widespread community participation is a cornerstone of the Housing Blueprint’s structure and is entirely essential to constructing a plan for our state’s future in housing. While we will continue to learn and explore new, innovative means for engagement during a pandemic, we will strive to increase opportunities for residents to become aware of and involved within the various processes of the Housing Blueprint. As this planning process moves forward, IHDA will publish all of its findings, current research, and opportunities for engagement to so that residents throughout our state can remain up to date with the Blueprint and can engage by exploring the work that is underway, commenting on any recent news or developments, or reaching out to IHDA about thoughts, ideas, or to share their own experiences and perspective.

As we continue to learn the most effective ways of engagement in our new world, we are open and happy to accommodate as many venues and opportunities as possible. If you have an idea or request for how we can better engage you and your community in the Housing Blueprint planning process, please contact us and let us know.