Governor’s budget plan again slashes shelter funding by 52%

Advocates and providers for poor and homeless residents of Illinois have their work cut out for them under the new state budget proposed today by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The governor’s $33.7 billion budget plan proposes to cut FY13 spending in most departments by 9%, including $591 million from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Proposed cuts include $4.7 million (52%) cut from emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless adults and families, according to CCH Associate Policy Director Daria Mueller, in Springfield for the governor’s budget address.

The same 52% cutback was approved for this year, but reversed Nov. 29 after the General Assembly heard from advocates mobilized by CCH and several other organizations. Until funding was restored in late 2011, almost $600,000 in cutbacks was passed along to shelters by the city of Chicago, with half the cuts hitting three key providers.

At a budget briefing with IDHS staff following the governor’s speech, Ms. Mueller spoke up that “these are the same shelter cuts we just worked to reverse.”

Other proposed cutbacks include lopping $2.7 billion from Medicaid health-care programs for poor people, and closing 14 major state facilities. The Quinn administration says revenues are projected to rise by about $720 million in FY13, while the pension payments – 78% of it to cover pensions for public schools and universities – will increase by more than $1 billion. Pension obligations should reach $5.2 billion, more than three times what it was in 2008.

“Our rendezvous with reality has arrived,” the governor said in his speech.

The governor’s budget eliminates $1 million for homeless education grants to public schools, though the Illinois State Board of Education voted earlier this month to recommend funding. With record numbers of homeless students in Chicago and statewide, CCH had proposed that Illinois restore this grant funding, three years after eliminating a $3 million grant program to schools for which CCH had advocated.

CCH is glad to report that no cuts (flat funding) were proposed for homeless prevention grants to families (currently at $1.48 million), homeless youth programs (now at $3.22 million), and supportive housing services ($3.38 million).

“We appreciate that the governor heard our pleas regarding homeless prevention and youth, because if those were cut, it would have virtually eliminated the programs. Advocacy by our supporters made a difference,” Ms. Mueller said.

– Anne Bowhay, Media