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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 on behalf of programs that shelter, house and assist families, children and youth, and vulnerable adults who are homeless and at-risk.

In 2014, CCH will seek to restore $2 million to the state’s cost-effective homeless prevention grant program in FY15. A CCH housing campaign, It Takes a Home to Raise a Child, proposed and advocated for this program that has assisted 101,830 households in 13 years (through FY13). Funding peaked at $11 million in FY08, with $4 million in funding in FY14. The average one-time grant to a household in FY13 was $1,048; 88% of recipients remained housed four months later.

Also for the FY15 budget, CCH advocates restoring $3 million in homeless education funding. Last funded in FY09, it would support school grants to programs that ensure the enrollment, attendance and success of homeless students. Homeless enrollment in Illinois public schools grows each year – including a 15% increase in 2012-13, to 54,892 children and teens.  The Illinois State Board of Education included the $3 million grant program in its recommended budget for FY15, but the matter now goes to the governor and legislators.

As an early partner in the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), CCH recognizes that budgets are a reflection of government priorities. In mid-2013, CCH and many other RBC members launched A Better Illinois, a campaign for a graduated state income tax based on earnings instead of the current flat-rate tax. This would increase state resources for human services, public schools, public safety and health care. Legislation supporting A Better Illinois is a priority on the CCH legislative agenda. Please click this link to sign a petition in support.

During the 2013 spring session, CCH persuaded the Illinois General Assembly to protect critical funding for homeless services and prevention. This was secured despite a legislative session that was overshadowed by the continuing state budget crisis. State officials focused on where to make cutbacks for the FY14 budget, but programs assisting homeless people secured increases in two key areas:

* $9.4 million to emergency shelter and transitional housing in the budget year that began July 2013. This is an increase of $300,000 (3%) from FY13’s $9.1 million appropriation. This funds life-saving shelter to more than 40,000 adults and children in Illinois each year.

* $4.6 million for homeless youth services. A $500,000 increase (12%) from $4.1 million (FY13) restores annual cutbacks begun five years earlier. It funds outreach, shelter and longer-term housing for unaccompanied youth who are homeless and living on their own, without parent or guardian. The restored funds will support proposals that demonstrate expanded services to as many additional youth as possible.

* $4 million to homeless prevention grants, level funding from FY13. These are one-time state grants are given to families on the verge of losing their housing. Grants averaged $864 in FY12 and state studies show more than 90% remained housed four to 12 months later.

During six advocacy days in Springfield, CCH organizers trained and transported more than 250 shelter residents and staff from Aurora, Chicago, Lake County, Maywood, Naperville, Rockford, and Wheaton. CCH also works with Housing Action Illinois, Supportive Housing Providers Association, Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, and Heartland Alliance, with legislative leadership from State Reps. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston).

This continued a record of effective advocacy: For FY12 and FY13, CCH successfully fought proposed cutbacks of 52% (of $4.7 million) to shelters and transitional housing programs across Illinois.

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