The Report on Illinois Poverty

An Annual Snapshot of the State of Poverty in Illinois

Over 10 years ago, Heartland Alliance identified poverty and economic insecurity as being at the root of many of the struggles faced by the organization’s program participants. We realized that no one was talking about poverty in a comprehensive way. We also identified a knowledge gap among legislators and other decision makers as to some very basic poverty facts—What is poverty? How many people are poor? Who is poor? Heartland Alliance’s research department, the Social IMPACT Research Center, began working on a project aimed at addressing the piecemeal approach to tackling poverty-related issues and to fill this knowledge gap. The crux of this effort became the annual Report on Illinois Poverty.

It is one of only a handful of state reports on poverty in the nation. The Report’s primary approach involves weaving together data on education, employment, housing, health care, nutrition and hunger, and assets, to tell a richer, more comprehensive story of poverty.

The goals of the project are simple…

  • …to educate lay people, legislators, and other decision makers in Illinois that poverty is a reality for millions of people in the state.

  • …to help people make the links between the various facets of poverty and help them see that educational challenges, health disparities and access issues, hunger, employment barriers, housing hardship, and lack of assets are part and parcel of the broader issue of poverty.

  • …ultimately to compel them to care thereby influencing policy and programmatic changes in order to expand opportunity for the most vulnerable people in the state of Illinois.