Illinois Homeless Caught In Budget Battle

Feb 23, 2016

Illinois has collected million dollars earmarked for helping the homeless. But the budget impasse means the money is continuing to sit untouched for now.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates traveled to Springfield and urged more state funding for homeless education.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Programs have closed, staff has been laid off and those in need have nowhere to turn. There are two measures in the state legislature that would authorize paying the money to these programs.

"It's not a matter of there not being money. The money is just sitting there for the vast majority of funding for these programs," said Julie Dworkin, director of policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

The budget impasse between Rauner, a Republican, and Democratic leaders in the legislature could make the state's homelessness problem worse for a long time to come.

"The longer an adult stays on the street, the more likely it is that they're going to get sick or become sicker. And the more likely that they'll become chronically homeless," said Sue Loellbach, director of development at Connections for the Homeless in Evanston.

Many social service programs, including those that serve the homeless, have not received funding in the last eight months because of the budget stalemate. The group had to close its drop-in center last year. The prevention program has also closed, and its supportive housing program has taken a hit.

Loelbach said the cut backs have impacted hundreds in the Evanston, where her organization is based, which will increase chronic homelessness and child homelessness.​