By Mike Krauser
Homeless youth and advocates gathered outside one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s homes on Thursday, to call attention to the state budget impasse and its impact on programs for the homeless.
The group lined up backpacks outside 340 on the Park, a high-rise condo building across the street from Maggie Daley Park. Rauner owns a condo there, and organizers of the demonstration said the governor uses that condo only for storage.
“We are out here in front of one of Governor Rauner’s nine homes. He owns nine luxury homes, and yet there are thousands of homeless people around the state that have no homes, and the only places that they have to stay are in jeopardy,” said Julie Dworkin, policy director for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
The 25 backpacks they laid out on the sidewalk represent the 25,000 homeless children in Illinois. For homeless youth, backpacks often carry everything they own.
“We’re comparing the only storage they have to the storage in this luxury high-rise,” Dworkin said.
Kayla Evans said she was homeless for two years before getting into a shelter, and getting help.
“Our backpack is our sense of survival. I carried a pocketknife, just in case somebody tried to attack us,” she said.
Evans said she knows a homeless person who intentionally committed a crime just to go to jail, “because they knew they’d have housing and food.”
“I thought that was pretty said,” she said.
Advocates said programs that help the homeless in Illinois are in danger of having to shut down, because the state budget stalemate has left them without vital funding.