Homeless and housing cutbacks contested during state budget hearing

By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Despite the General Assembly ending a record-setting two-year state budget impasse, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed mid-year cutbacks to vital human services, including homeless and housing service funding.

The governor has authority to effect FY18 cutbacks in Illinois without further legislative approval.

Homeless and housing line items are funded through several streams, including the General Revenue Fund and funds dedicated to homeless and housing services. The governor proposed a 5% cut across the board to General Revenue. If enacted by the governor, the proposed cutbacks would impact FY18 state contracts already signed with providers.

Proposed cutbacks include:

  • $227,000 to Homeless Youth, a 4% cutback to to a $5.5 million budget
  • $51,000 to Homeless Prevention, cutting 1% from a $4.9 million budget
  • $671,000 to Supportive and Transitional Housing, cutting 2% from total funding of $30 million

To put a face to the proposed cuts, the House Human Services – Appropriations Committee met Nov. 1 to hear from service providers and people receiving services.

Imploring Rauner to reconsider mid-year cuts, Connections for the Homeless was among those that testified. The Evanston provider is active in the State Network at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

“Any cut of any size impacts those most in need,” said Sue Loellbach, Connections’ Manager of Advocacy. “Our organization has cut everywhere we can throughout the budget impasse.”

Connections for the Homeless provides a variety of services, including homeless prevention grants to households threatened with eviction and foreclosure. It is easier and cost-effective to help a family stay housed rather than attempting to rehouse them once they’ve become homeless.

A family that becomes homeless needs emergency shelter and supportive services. The family, especially the children, experiences the trauma of losing their home. Securing new housing later becomes more difficult with an eviction or foreclosure on a family’s credit history.

Homeless and housing services suffered greatly when the budget impasse dragged on. Service providers and their clients not only deserve their funding but also the stability of knowing that what they were promised in their signed contracts is the funding they will receive.