Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) hosted a legislative breakfast March 11, attended by 30 state legislators who learned more about homeless service programs across the state.
We talked with 28 representatives and two senators from both parties about protecting vital homeless services from proposed cutbacks, including programs for homeless youth, emergency shelter and transitional housing, and homeless prevention grants to families. We also discussed restoring funds for school services to homeless students.
Joining us were staff and leaders from Aurora’s Hesed House, Youth Service Bureau in Springfield, Catholic Charities of Lake County, and a CCH leader from Will County.
A few legislators who had said they could only stay briefly ended up staying much longer, inspired by the personal stories from community leaders.
State Rep. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) was so moved by the personal story of Hesed House leader Moe Zayed that he asked his legislative aide to take photos with him.
Meanwhile, Youth Service leader Rico Swan said that the more he talked, the more confident he felt sharing his story and connecting with legislators. When Rico asked legislators “Where on your priority list is funding homeless services?,” Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) replied, “At the top.”
Thanks to the 30 legislators who took time to hear from us: Chicago’s Rep. Jaime Andrade, Jr., Sen. William Delgado, Rep. Ken Dunkin, Rep. Mary Flowers, Rep. LaShawn Ford, Rep. Will Guzzardi, Rep. Greg Harris, Rep. Camille Lily, Rep. Rob Martwick, Rep. Christian Mitchell, Rep. Pamela Reaves-Harris, Rep. Elgie Sims, Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Silvana Tabares, and Rep. Andre’ Thapedi.
Also, from the suburbs, Rep. Avery Bourne, Litchfield; Rep. William Davis, East Hazel Crest; Rep. Robyn Gabel, Evanston; Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, Cicero; Rita Mayfield, Waukegan; Rep. Michelle Mussman, Schaumburg; Rep. Al Riley, Hazel Crest; Rep. Emmanuel Chris Welch, Westchester; and Rep. Kathleen Willis, Northlake.
From downstate, Rep. Terri Bryant, Mt. Vernon; Rep. Mike Smiddy, Port Bryon. Rep. Patrick Verschoore, Rock Island; and Rep. Litesa Wallace, Rockford.
– Jonathan Holmes, CCH Policy Fellow