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.
In a meeting arranged by CCH, 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.