Illinois motel vouchers and emergency housing.

The Illinois DHS partners with agencies and charities to provide emergency vouchers for a motel or in some cases the assistance may be used to pay for a low cost hotel. This program is not commonly offered, but it will be an option when a resident is out of all other options. For example, if all of the shelters in the city of Chicago or a local county are full or not available, then a voucher may be an option. They will only be provided for a very short term stay though, and it will normally be measured in days and not weeks.

This service is part of the statewide emergency and transitional housing program. There is assistance for residents that are facing imminent eviction (such as those that have notice from their landlord) or that are currently homeless. There are also situations to help victims of domestic violence escape danger, or vouchers for veterans or single parents with children. So there is no discrimination made by DHS when it comes to age, race, or the applicant’s background.

Services provided in addition to the voucher

Not only may a free voucher be provided, but the state and the not profits that partner with DHS will also provide free hot meals and other related support services that may be needed, such as clothing or personal hygiene items. These will often rely on donations from the community and other charities in cities of Chicago as well as other communities government funding.

What is usually offered, and the steps involved, are as follows. First, a non-profit that partners with DHS will try to place the individual into a short term, emergency shelter in the local town or county. This may be for less than one day stay, and meals will be provided too.

However there are many period of time, especially during the winter, when the shelters across the state, in particular those in Cook County and Chicago, are full. In these instances, the voucher program will be an option, and this is another form of shelter. This voucher is available at no cost to residents, is very limited, but it can pay for a local motel or hotel. The next step after this is transitional housing, and this can offer lodging for up to 2 years.




The assistance is provided by non-profit organizations, and all of these groups are required by the state to provide supportive services, such as meals, and case management. The goal of these supportive services is to assist homeless individuals and families with many resources to help them return to self-sufficiency, including education and employment.

Other assistance, including financial, for people existing the voucher program can include grants for paying for the rental deposit on a new low income apartment in the state of Illinois, transportation to work, counseling, advocacy, job training, domestic abuse intervention, as well as housing placement. There is a strong focus on providing these housing services in the city of Chicago as this is where there is a higher concentration of homelessness and evictions, but the services are in fact available across Illinois.

All of these resources are provided by charities and/or non-profit organizations in Chicago and around the state, ranging from churches to other organizations as well. There may even be local governments in the county that partner with DHS on this. In all cases, the organization needs to meet local community needs and show that they can provide the support that is needed to the homeless.

For more information on these programs, call your local Department of Human Services office. As noted, the motel voucher program is limited, but it is another option for those that are struggling. Or the main help line for information statewide is 1-800-843-6154.



By Jon McNamara

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