Capitol Fax: Another hostage dies as Rauner refuses to release funds

Wednesday, February 24


You may not see children sleeping under bridges or asking for a spare dollar on the street, but homeless children are out there. In Illinois, public schools reported more than 59,000 homeless children in the 2013-2014 school year, and nearly half of them are out on their own.

Those kids now have one less safe place to stay because of the state budget impasse.

Normally housing four kids at a time, rooms inside the Mahoney Transitional Living facility now sit empty. Kerie Moore at the Family Counseling Center says she was supervising the shelter but, without the funds blocked by the budget impasse, this once-busy house is now quiet. It was forced to close last week.

“It’s just something that is desperately needed in this area and, right now, it’s just without resources,” Moore said.

* Meanwhile, from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless…

After promising to consider legislation that would immediately fund services to homeless youth, Gov. Rauner, through his policy director, told CCH, youth, and providers on Tuesday afternoon that his office would not support the bills at this time.

The governor met personally with homeless youth on Friday to hear the stories of how the state-funded programs had changed their lives, helping them gain employment and get stably housed. Caprice Williams, 22, said closing the program would be like losing the only family she and her infant daughter have.

“Ninety-percent of the funding contained in HB 4955 and SB 2603 is sitting in dedicated funds that are building up as real estate and foreclosure-related fees are collected,” said Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “We can’t understand why the governor would choose to let these funds sit there while homeless youth are going to end up back on the streets.”

The governor’s office agreed to support one small portion of the bill that would release federal funding for affordable housing development. While that is a positive step, it will do nothing to help service providers that are in danger of closing after not being paid for eight months.

Last week, one of the state’s homeless youth providers could no longer float the state and had to shut down its six-bed transitional housing program, leaving seven southern Illinois counties with no housing options for homeless youth. Two other programs have run out of money to pay rent on apartments that house the youth in their programs.

Homeless youth and providers vowed to keep fighting for the release of funding for their programs.

Rauner was asked about this today and he said it was “ridiculous” that the state doesn’t have a budget – even though most of this cash is apparently sitting in special state funds. Ripe for a sweep, I suppose.

Rauner also said he was a “huge” contributor to homeless causes. “I’ve put a lot of money of my own to help homeless veterans.”

– Posted by Rich Miller