Testifying before an Illinois House committee Wednesday, CCH officials asked legislators to maintain state funding of emergency shelters and transitional housing in the state’s FY15 budget, while restoring $2 million more to a program that helps families avoid homelessness.
“I believe that homeless services such as those offered at Safe Haven are crucially important for people like me,” said Gloria Davis, a CCH leader who lives at the West Side shelter. “I know you all have tough decisions to make, but today I am here before you to ask you to maintain the funding of $9.3 million for emergency and transitional housing for the coming year.”
Speaking to the House Human Services Appropriations Committee, Ms. Davis, active with CCH’s Survivor Advocacy Group Empowered (SAGE), said the shelter and its programs have helped her move forward in her life.
“I struggled with addictions for many years then became homeless. Safe Haven has given me the opportunity to change my life. I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be,” she said.
More than 40,000 adults and children across Illinois are sheltered and housed by programs supported with this $9.3 million funding, Policy Specialist Jennifer Cushman testified.
“Even at its current funding level, residents of Illinois in crisis are turned away 45,000 times per year by providers due to lack of resources,” said Ms. Cushman. She added that 54% of households leaving the system to move into transitional or permanent housing.
Illinois should also restore $2 million more to a state program that funds one-time “homeless prevention” grants to households at risk of losing their housing, Ms. Cushman said.
Funded at $4 million this year, Illinois prevention funding peaked at $11 million in FY08. With $6 million in funding, 5,700 Illinois households would be helped.
“Eighty-eight percent of households remain housed after receiving funds, and it has helped more than 100,000 families and individuals stay housed since the program started in 1999,” Ms. Cushman said.
Homeless prevention grants provide one-time rental and utility assistance to households, a program that prevents people from entering the more costly shelter system. A CCH housing campaign, It Takes a Home to Raise a Child, proposed and successfully advocated that Illinois fund the prevention program.
– Policy Intern Kristen Black and Organizing Intern Jackie Sotelo-Savedra