CCH leaders rally in Springfield (Photo by Jaime Michelle Schmitz)

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless does not accept government funding. Instead, when CCH advocates for public support, it is for the programs that shelter, house and assist homeless youth, students, families, and vulnerable adults.

After two fiscal years without a budget, the Illinois House and Senate came together in bipartisan fashion to enact a budget and revenue package, with final veto override votes on July 6, 2017.

Two years without a budget devastated the Illinois safety net. Homeless and housing service providers laid off staff, discontinued programs, and shuttered their doors. The budget crisis not only impacted social services statewide, it jeopardized higher education’s accreditations, dropped the state’s bond rating to near-junk status, and threatened schools’ ability to reopen this fall. The state comptroller warned that state government would not have enough cash by August to continue operations.

March 2017 lobby day in Springfield (Photo by Allison Williams)

CCH organizers brought 1,150 homeless leaders and students to Springfield for 23 lobby days in 2016 and 2017. Advocacy included mobilizing 75 leaders for an action at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Winnetka mansion in May 2017. CCH pushed for a responsible revenue package, with funding for homeless and housing services.

Senate leadership began working on a “Grand Bargain” in late 2016. Then-Republican Leader Christine Radogno (Lemont) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) worked on several compromises sought by Gov. Rauner, such as pension reform and a property tax freeze, as well as school funding (Senate Bill 1), a state budget (SB6), and tax revenue (SB9).

There were times leaders walked away from the table, but SB6 and SB9 were finally enacted after the Senate and House overrode the governor’s veto. Budget bill SB6 funded homeless and housing services for the remainder of FY17 and FY18. Based on FY15 numbers, homeless youth programs were cut 5% for FY18,  supportive housing was cut 1.8%, emergency and transitional housing funding remained the same, and homeless prevention grants received a 24% increase (up $975,000, from $4 million).

The SB9 revenue bill permanently increased the personal income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95% and the corporate rate from 5.25% to 7%. The personal rate is less than the 5% rate that expired in 2015.

In its 2016 advocacy, CCH proposed the release of special funds via two budget bills. Several Thompson Center protests were mobilized. Homeless youth and providers met one-on-one with Senate President Cullerton and Gov. Rauner. CCH leaders participated in one of the largest State Capitol rallies in the state’s history, dubbed the State of Our State. CCH led what’s believed to be the first sit-in at the Executive Mansion in April 2016, with youth asking the governor to release homeless funds.

Over two years, CCH organizers brought 1,150 leaders to Springfield, bringing people from Chicago, Aurora, Bellwood, Bolingbrook, Champaign, Naperville, Niles, Palos Heights, Park Ridge, Waukegan, and Wheaton.

Responsible Budget Coalition

As a lead partner in the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), CCH recognizes that a budget reflects government priorities. More than 300 RBC partners advocate for graduated income tax rates based on income earned, a more fair method that creates the revenue needed for public schools, human services, public safety and health care.