Housing approves student voucher programs to fund payments

David Northern (left), chief executive officer of the Housing Authority of Champaign County, discusses the new student voucher program that was passed recently with Executive Assistant, Lily Walton (right) on Nov. 14.

Brigida Dockus

David Northern (left), chief executive officer of the Housing Authority of Champaign County, discusses the new student voucher program that was passed recently with Executive Assistant, Lily Walton (right) on Nov. 14.

By Luis Velazquez, Staff Writer

The Housing Authority of Champaign County has approved a student voucher program that will help students pay for University housing through grants and scholarships.

Besides the Illinois Commitment offered by the University, the HACC wants to ensure low-income students have the opportunity to have University Housing services.

Illinois Commitment is a financial aid package that provides scholarships and grants to cover tuition and campus fees for students who are Illinois residents and have a family income of $61,000 or less.

David Northern, executive director for HACC, said it is important to offer resources for individuals who do not have stable living conditions while attending a higher institution.

“We don’t know if they can stay at home,” Northern said. “We don’t know what kinds of situations are going on at home. We don’t know if it is safe to be at home.”

He said HACC created the idea of the student voucher program. Once the organization had a draft ready, departments from the University were reached out to, and they have been working on this program for about eight months

“Hopefully, we get a discounted cost for some of our students, if that’s possible, with housing,” Northern said. 

The student voucher program will be funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The organization receives its funding as a block grant, which allows the HACC to commit to programs such as this one.

Grant Henry, executive chairman of HACC, said the organization is an exemplary housing agency and is proud of the program that will be offered to students in need. 

“We have opportunities to engage in programs, such as this,” Henry said. “Explore new avenues for students who may live in low-income housing and give them the opportunity to blossom and have a chance for them to live in a University setting.”

Michele Thompson, director of Marketing and Communications for the University, said in an email, “Student Affairs nor University Housing have been asked to engage in conversations regarding this initiative.” However, they are grateful the HACC is committed to finding solutions to aid students who are members of the community.

Northern said he hopes the program will be ready by fall 2021. 

“If we can provide opportunities for all young people to be successful in college, especially at the University of Illinois, I think that’s a win,” he said.

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