Renters face long waits for vouchers

The news: In April, President Barack Obama allocated $13.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing and community development. Behind the news: Renters looking for relief from escalating rents and foreclosures via the city’s housing voucher program are finding their chances slim and their waits long. In 2008, 17 percent of the people applying for housing vouchers through the Chicago Housing Authority had successful applications, according to an analysis of CHA data by The Chicago Reporter. The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides people earning less than half of the Chicago metropolitan area’s median household income–”$58,938 in 2007–” with access to housing units in the private market. Voucher holders pay up to 40 percent of their monthly household income toward rent.

Not all kids in ‘All Kids’

The news: In January, the U.S. Senate approved a measure that would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to insure an additional 4.1 million children. Behind the news: More than two years after its launch, Illinois’ All Kids health insurance program is covering about 1.4 million children, according to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. But census figures show an additional 210,000 children under 18 remained uninsured in 2007, the latest year for which the data are available. The state program, which covers children under 19, costs about $2.4 billion per year, at an average of about $1,700 per child, according to Annie Thompson, spokesperson for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This means that, if the state were to extend the program to the 210,000 children, it would cost at least an additional $357 million per year.

Fewer illegal abandonments

The news: A man left nine of his 10 children at a hospital in Nebraska under the state’s safe-haven law. Behind the news: According to data from the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a nonprofit that keeps tabs on abandoned newborns, 47 newborns were relinquished under Illinois’ safe-haven law since it was enacted in 2001. Another 53 were “illegally” abandoned, of which 26 died. The highest percentage of newborns relinquished in Illinois were white, at 42 percent. African Americans followed at 35 percent and Latinos at 15 percent.