Illinois enacts state budget funding homeless programs

Illinois General Assembly has concluded its 2018 legislative session. In its budget advocacy, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless organizers brought 220 leaders and students to Springfield for 10 lobby days.

The budget bill, Senate Bill 108, funds homeless and housing services during FY19, which will begin July 1. Despite $44 million in cuts to other human services line items, the homeless youth programs received a $500,000 increase, to $6 million, while funds for emergency and transitional housing gained $1 million, to $10.3 million. Funding for homelessness prevention grants and supportive housing line items remained the same from last year’s budget package.

CCH also advocated with Heartland Alliance and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law for on an increase to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) cash grant. The cash grant is meant to provide families living in extreme poverty assistance in meeting their basic needs.

The Illinois TANF program has increased monthly benefits only twice in 22 years, with the last increase a decade ago. TANF is federally funded through the states. The Illinois grant has lost over 25% of its spending power because it has not kept up with inflation.

Through our advocacy, the first-year increase included in the Creating Opportunities for Illinoisans in Need Act (COIN Act, or SB3115) is included in the budgetary implementation for FY19. After asking families experiencing homelessness how this increase would help them, we were told it means being able to purchase new winter boots for their children.

The TANF increase raises the benefit level from 21% to 25% of the federal poverty line to 30% FPL, effective October 1. For a family of three, the monthly TANF grant will increase from $432/month to $520/month.

Thank you to the bipartisan work group and Gov. Rauner for signing a full budget that will provide services to people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

– Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director