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Finding a Place to Live

There are many different ways to begin searching for a place to live. Talk to people you know, search on the internet, check your local newspapers or go for a walk around a neighborhood you like and be on the lookout for “For Rent” signs. ILHousingSearch.org is a free resource you can use to find rentals all over Illinois.

An important consideration when searching for apartments is location. If an apartment has convenient parking and is close to where you work, public transportation, friends and other necessities such as grocery stores, pharmacies and laundromats, you’ll save both money and time.

When you find an apartment you would like to visit, make a list of important questions and call the landlord. Asking the right questions at the beginning will help you narrow down the list by eliminating the apartments that don’t have everything you are looking for.

Questions that can be answered over the phone include:

  • How much is the rent?
  • What utilities are included in the rent (cooking gas, electricity, heat, water, cable TV and internet)?
  • Do you charge an application fee, a move in fee and/or a security deposit and how much?
  • How many rooms/bedrooms?
  • Do you accept pets?
  • Does the unit come with kitchen appliances?
  • Is there a washer and dryer in the building, and if so, how much does it cost?
  • Can I smoke in the unit?
  • Does the unit come with cable or internet? If so, is there an additional fee?

If, after talking to the landlord you are still interested in the apartment, the next step is to schedule a visit. Always view the actual unit you will be renting before you sign a lease. Fill out an inspection checklist while you are in the apartment.

Youth Housing Assistance Program (YHAP):
YHAP is offered by DCFS to youth who have aged out of DCFS care or are within six months of aging out of care and have not yet turned 21. The program can also serve some youth who were adopted (or placed in a subsidized guardianship home) after their 16th birthday. The program provides:

  • Housing advocacy to help the youth locate and maintain housing
  • Cash Assistance may be authorized to help pay for items necessary to secure and maintain housing that the youth cannot afford
  • A partial housing subsidy for youth who have aged out of care but have not yet turned 21.

Norman Housing Advocacy Program
If you have an open DCFS case and have a child who is in danger of being placed in, or cannot be returned home from, DCFS care due to your housing situation DCFS may be able to help you look for housing. Your child welfare worker can refer you to the Norman Housing Advocacy Program. These housing advocacy services include but are not limited to:

  • Education to help you search for housing
  • Apartment lists
  • Assistance applying for housing
  • Budget and tenant rights counseling

Fair Housing Act (Anti-Discrimination)
State and federal law prohibit housing discrimination. If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights at 312-814-6229 or email IDHR.FairHousing@illinois.gov.

Need help or want to know more?
The Illinois Housing Handbook, available in English and en español, provides a wealth of information to help make obtaining and maintaining housing easier and less confusing, especially for first-time renters.