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.

The state budget crisis continues during Fiscal Year 2017 without an end in sight, despite Illinois being in its second year without a budget. The budget impasse forces human service agencies to make difficult decisions as they attempt to maintain core services. Agencies have cutback staff, suspended programming, and turned away clients to stay afloat while awaiting payment for services provided.

In June 2016, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an emergency funding bill (Senate Bill 2047) that provided human service organizations with some respite as FY16 came to an end without payment. The 18-month funding bill funded most human service line items at 65% or less than in FY15.

But programs for which CCH advocates were funded at the following levels:

* Homeless Prevention grants to households: 100%

* Emergency and Transitional Housing: 100%

* Homeless Youth services: 76%

* Supportive Housing: 65%

During the spring 2016 legislative session CCH worked with Housing Action Illinois to draft legislation that would immediately appropriate homeless and housing funds already collected in dedicated funds. The state had collected $274.7 million that the governor allowed to sit in eight dedicated funds, those these were not budget-related funds. The legislation, Appropriations to Create Affordable Housing and End Homelessness (House Bill 4955/Welch and Senate Bill 2603/Hunter), proposed to include $35.3 million of General Revenue funds that would have fully funded homeless and housing line items.

CCH organized 13 advocacy days in Springfield during the legislative session. Our organizers trained and transported more than 600 people, most of them homeless or recently homeless people and students. Leaders traveled from neighborhoods all over Chicago as well as Aurora, Bellwood, Bolingbrook, Champaign, Naperville, Niles, Palos Heights, Park Ridge, Waukegan, and Wheaton.

The CCH Youth Committee is comprised of 36 youth providers statewide. They sought opportunities to sit down with state leaders of both parties to urge support of the budget bills HB4955/SB2603. Youth told political leaders about the impact of homeless services on their lives. Through organizing and advocacy, homeless youth met personally with Gov. Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton. During a youth lobby day in April, homeless youth and students from Niles North and Niles West high schools traveled to Springfield to stage a first-time sit-in at the Governor’s Mansion.

Responsible Budget Coalition

As a lead partner in the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), CCH recognizes that a budget reflects government priorities. RBC partners continued to advocate for graduated income tax rates based on income earned that are fairer and create the revenue needed by public schools, human services, public safety and health care.