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State Budget Advocacy

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

CCH does not accept government funding. Instead, when we advocate for public support it is for the programs that shelter, house and assist homeless youths, families and vulnerable adults.

Homeless education funding

Last fall, CCH began a campaign to restore $3 million in homeless school services in the FY15 state budget. Proposed by CCH in the only year these services were state funded (FY09), CCH sought to resume grants to school programs that ensure the enrollment, attendance and success of homeless students.

Homeless enrollment in Illinois public schools grows yearly, with a 7% increase to 59,112 homeless students in 2013-14. After hearing from CCH leaders and advocates, the Illinois State Board of Education and governor’s office both included a $3 million allocation in their recommended budget plans.

While this funding was not restored by legislators in the final budget OK’d in May, our campaign gained momentum. Legislators inserted a placeholder line for homeless education in the final FY15 budget, should more revenues come available. Gov. Pat Quinn proclaimed May 2014 Homeless Students Educational Rights Month, and legislators in the Black Caucus named homeless education to be a funding priority. CCH also released a statewide study on school service gaps to homeless students. CCH will resume this advocacy next year.

Responsible Budget Coalition

An early partner in the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), CCH recognizes that budgets are a reflection of government priorities. During the 2014 legislative session, RBC partners advocated through A Better Illinois for graduated income tax rates that are fair and create the revenue needed to fund schools, human services, public safety and health care.

RBC also advocated for legislation to permanently extend the 5% state income tax rate that is set to expire, but the General Assembly did not act on either measure. Without extension, the income tax rate will drop to 3.75% on January 1, 2015, creating more than a $2 billion shortfall in the second half of FY15. This would seriously threaten human services, schools and other critical public agencies. CCH and our partners will continue to advocate strongly for its extension.

For the state’s FY15 budget, CCH succeeded in advocating against more than $7 million in proposed cutbacks to homeless programs.

Instead, Illinois maintained level funding for homeless programs, with a $1 million increase in youth funding. This was achieved despite a legislative session embroiled in a deepening state budget crisis:

$5.6 million for homeless youth – A $1 million increase brings youth funding to its highest level in Illinois. It funds outreach, shelter and longer-term housing for unaccompanied youth who are homeless and living on their own, without a parent or guardian. These funds will support programs that demonstrate expanded services to as many additional youth as possible.

$30.5 million for supportive housing – A $2.7 million increase funds services for supportive housing now being developed. With it, 12,000 more highly vulnerable adults will be able to reside in the community with needed intensive services. Illinois will save millions in institutionalization costs.

$4 million for homeless prevention grants – No increase from FY14. CCH sought a $2 million increase in a program that saw funding peak at $11 million. A state program conceived by CCH, in 13 years 101,830 households were helped with grants that in FY13 averaged $1,048; 88% of recipients remain housed four months later. (To advocate for funding, CCH hosted its first display of art by homeless children and youth at the state capitol.)

$9.4 million to emergency shelters and transitional housing – Also no increase, this funds life-saving shelter to more than 40,000 adults and children in Illinois.

With 19 advocacy days in Springfield during 2014, CCH organizers trained and transported 382 shelter residents and staff from Aurora, Chicago, Maywood, Naperville, Rockford, Springfield and Waukegan. They advocated for funding, adequate tax revenues and substantive legislation, including a CCH-drafted bill that will allows unaccompanied minors to consent to their own non-emergency medical care.

CCH advocated with ally groups, including Housing Action Illinois, Supportive Housing Providers Association, Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, and Heartland Alliance, with leadership from legislators such as State Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans (both D-Chicago).

This continues our record of effective budget advocacy. This includes CCH and its allies stopping proposed cutbacks of 52% ($4.7 million) to shelters and transitional housing programs across Illinois, proposed in both FY12 and FY13.

For more information, contact Policy Specialist Jennifer Cushman at (312) 641-4140.