Illinois Newsroom

Kristin Walters / IL Newsroom

In Illinois, there are only 35 affordable housing units for every 100 families considered extremely low-income, according to Housing Action Illinois, a housing advocacy organization.

Housing Choice Voucher, also known as Section 8, is a federal program designed to make market-rate apartments accessible to people who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. The voucher program covers part of the rent for around 97,000 families in Illinois.

In response to a call for questions on affordable housing, one Illinois Newsroom listener asked: “How does Section 8 work? It seems like a great program in theory that also seems really hard for families to access in practice.”

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Weasle Forsythe is an information assurance apprentice with SuprTEK - a government contracting firm in O’Fallon, Illinois, outside of St. Louis. In the quiet office of cubicles with two screens and near-silent coders, her cubicle is decked out.

“I have all my toys here and my huge fidget cube, and my Spider Gwen and my X-Force Deadpool,” she said.

Amid the color and chaos of superhero posters and figurines - Forsythe pulled out a big black binder. “I mean, this isn’t really sexy, but I think it’s awesome. It’s the NIST compliance,” she said.

Kristin Walters / Illinois Newsroom

The fertile soil of Illinois farmland has defined the state for 200 years (hello, bicentennial). And current farmers and aspiring ones are wondering who gets to carry on the legacy for the next 200. If you’re not in the farming industry, the issue is more complicated than you think.

panelist discussing marijuana legalization
Travis Stansel / Illinois Newsroom

The issue of marijuana legalization in Illinois has been hotly debated for years. But assumptions, inaccuracies, and unknowns still fuel arguments on all sides across the state. As vocal legalization supporter and governor-elect J.B. Pritzker prepares to take office, Illinois residents are trying to understand how the potential legalization will affect them. 

Fields, crops and farm animals are part of the agriculture-industry landscape, but an increasingly small one.

The number of farm and ranch managers shrunk by about 20 percent between 1996 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At the same time, there are more students graduating from ag colleges, and, in many parts of the country, 80 percent to 90 percent of them find a job (or go for an advanced degree) within a few months of graduating.

I’m used to long roads.

I grew up at the dead end of a dirt one in rural Montana.

For my latest radio story, I drove about 11 hours. Every person I interviewed was a stranger in a town I’ve never been. Mostly, I found them online.

Don’t tell my mother.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

At the county health building in east Springfield, election judge trainees sit through a presentation and comb through packets of information.

On November 6, they’ll check voter rolls, hand out ballots and oversee counting machines.

One group at the training sticks out; about a dozen high school students sit together in the back of the room.

Lee V. Gaines

Knowing there were other transgender inmates in prisons in Illinois and across the country made Leila Lee feel as though she wasn’t alone. She said it also made her want to help people like herself when she was released from prison.

Tamara Cubrilo for IL Newsroom

Lily Furgeson had a great experience in sex ed in middle school. Furgeson, who is a 17-year-old senior at a Chicago Public Schools high school, said her eighth grade sex ed teacher made sure to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities as part of their curriculum.

 

Illinois Newsroom holds Listening Sessions across the state to hear what's top of mind for community members. 

tom.arthur/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In the past, Ann Quackenbush would wake up early on election day to get to her polling place. The elementary school teacher in Champaign says it was often hard to make time to vote during a busy school day.

For the primary last March, she tried something different – mailing in her ballot before election day.

“It is just incredibly convenient,” said Quackenbush, who has already requested a mail-in ballot for the mid-terms in November.

Technology changing access and outcomes in abortion debate

President Donald Trump has stood strongly behind the anti-abortion movement, and his Supreme Court picks have some questioning the future of abortion access. However, technology could be key to access, too -- for both sides of the abortion debate.  

The room looks like an office. There are tables, chairs, a laptop and a cash register -- though that register isn’t for money.

The space is used for telemedicine abortions in Planned Parenthood’s Iowa City clinic.

Michelle McAnarney said she realized her daughter Darby was different than other children soon after she was born.

"She was always a little delayed physically," said McAnarney, a Springfield resident. Darby was well over a year old when she started walking, but "once she could walk, I'm not even joking the next day she was running," she said.

If McAnarney and her husband took Darby, who is now four years old, to loud or chaotic places, she'd become overwhelmed -- tip a plate over in a restaurant, throw a tantrum in a grocery store -- in an attempt to exit the situation.

@assassinsgame16

At Springfield High School, Ethan Doyle is an honors student, a member of the baseball team, the investment club, and an elite student group known as Superintendent’s Roundtable. But perhaps his most notable accomplishment came during the spring of his sophomore year, when he assassinated more of his classmates than anybody else.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Just before noon on a recent Saturday, a group of political memorabilia collectors jostled for a spot around an exhibit table, checking their final bids in a silent auction.

They were in Springfield at the national American Political Items Collectors (APIC) conference. Most of the items up for auction at this table featured presidential candidates.

Madelyn Beck / Illinois Newsroom

Dave Plunk has run Music Makers in Galesburg for more than 15 years, occupying two floors of a three-story building on the town’s main street with rows of guitars, amps and other music equipment.

'Unsilence' Helps Communities Address Taboo Topics

Jul 9, 2018
Luke Adams

The separation of families at the US-Mexico border has caused many to voice outrage over what they see as an inhumane policy. Dozens of children separated from their parents have been placed in shelters in the Chicago area, part of a group of around 2,000 separated children placed across the country.

C-SPAN

A Chicago appellate judge is on President Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees. But who is Amy Coney Barrett?

hjl/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois is on track to expand the number of physician assistants allowed to treat patients, especially in many rural areas.

Lee V. Gaines / Illinois Newsroom

Chuck Bleyer is worried the southern Illinois school district he heads won’t be able to fill an open teacher position by the time classes start this fall.


Photo illustration: sean hobson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Simple, everyday tasks  – like ordering coffee, crossing the street, or getting gas – can be an obstacle, or an intimidating challenge for people recently released from prison. This is especially true for people who have spent many years behind bars.


Peoria Public Radio

Conversations around gun violence often revolve around long-term solutions, like improving schools or the local economy.

But even if those things were easy — and they’re not — it would take a generation to realize the benefits.

And for the Illinoisans living and dying in these communities — mostly low-income, black communities — they don’t have time to wait.

Beth Martinez and her brother Ben Bloom
Courtesy Beth Martinez

The national conversation around gun violence generally centers around mass shootings, school shootings and gang activity. These problems need to be addressed, but may overshadow the largest group affected: suicide victims.


Teachers in Champaign receiving training in trauma
Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

Last month, about a dozen people gathered in the basement of a church in Champaign, Ill. to learn about how traumatic experiences affect the lives of children and young adults, and what they can do to mitigate its effects.


Courtesy of Ann Baltzer

The trend toward school choice has educators across the country looking at Chicago’s Noble Charter Schools — an award-winning network of mostly high schools that specializes in helping inner-city kids achieve the kind of SAT scores that propel them into four-year universities. But despite its prestigious reputation, Noble has a peculiarly high teacher turnover rate.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly.

Illinois lawmakers have only enacted a budget for one of the three years he’s been in office.

That led to service cuts and some layoffs, but the state didn’t collapse. For most people, life went on as normal.

So we asked Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey: Does it really matter if Illinois has a budget?

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Deadline December 15

Nov 29, 2017
U.S. Capitol Building illustration
Illinois Newsroom RJC

Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act ends Dec. 15 in Illinois. There’s confusion around this year’s sign up, due in part to the shorter enrollment period. Here are six things you should know.