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Homeless Youth Protest Lack Of State Funds

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Sarah Mueller
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NPR | Illinois Public Radio
Homeless youth and service providers protest outside the Governor's Mansion in Springfield.

About 50 Illinois homeless youth and service providers essentially ambushed Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday. Their goal was to bring attention to a lack of state funding for job training, counseling and affordable housing.

  Advocates say formerly homeless individuals and families could wind up back on the street because the state hasn't funded support services for more than nine months. So they brought the issue to Rauner's home in Springfield: the Governor's Mansion.

About half of the reported 100 or more protestors stayed outside the mansion and chanted. But others entered it under the pretense of a tour. Once inside, they opened their jackets to reveal bright t-shirts revealing their organization. They staged and sit-in and chanted. Julie Dworkin, with the Chicago Coalition for the homeless said they stayed until they met with members of Rauner's staff.

Flora Coppel directs a homeless agency in Chicago. 

  She says a program that houses 28 parents and their families is in jeopardy of closing.

"Gov. Rauner has nine homes, they have one," she said. "They have the one that we're in right now. And if they lose that home they have none."

A statement from Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Rauner said he supports releasing federal government funding to help homeless agencies.

“As the governor’s office has told the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless previously, the governor strongly supports funding the federal (HOME Investment Partnerships Program) and would sign a bill that appropriates money for that federal pass-through," she said. "Rather than tying that funding to the larger budget impasse, we encourage all parties to come together to fund the federal HOME program.”

Rauner has rejected a previous call to release state money. He met with homeless youth and advocates in February before turning down their request for state funding.

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