Study release: Due to state budget impasse, more than $107 million in dedicated funds for affordable housing are going unused

Without a State Budget the Affordable Housing Needs of More Than 172,000 People Will Be Needlessly Unmet

As the state budget impasse nears its six-month mark, the State of Illinois has accumulated $107.8 million in seven (7) dedicated funds to create affordable housing and end homelessness according to a report released today. However, these funds — such as the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and federal HOME Investment Partners Program funds — cannot be spent without approval by the General Assembly and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

These seven dedicated funds — state funds and one federal fund—have their own revenue sources and are separate and apart from General Revenue Funds (GRF) collected from income taxes and other revenue sources. Spending these dedicated funds would not increase the state budget deficit. 

Based on the budget passed by the General Assembly in May 2015, the report estimates that resources from these dedicated funds and a small amount of GRF could:

  • Fund programs serving the affordable housing needs of 172,350 people.
  • Provide funding for 14,640 units of affordable housing.

The programs not being funded include homeless prevention grants, emergency shelters and foreclosure prevention counseling. The housing units are primarily permanent supportive housing for people who were formerly homeless.

The balances in most of these funds will continue to grow if the budget impasse continues. In the fiscal year FY 2016 budget passed by the General Assembly the total appropriations for these seven dedicated funds is $185.9 million. The amount of GRF required to fund the programs described in the report is $32.4 million.

The report was released by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, CSH, Housing Action Illinois, and the Supportive Housing Providers Association.

“We urge Governor Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to pass legislation appropriating these dedicated funds as soon as the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2016,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois, one of the groups releasing the report.

“The fact that we have no budget six months into the fiscal year is unconscionable,” said Julie Dworkin, Director of Policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, another group releasing the report. “But there is no excuse for letting funds dedicated for housing sit unspent when there is no debate about how those funds should be spent and thousands of people could benefit.”

Not being able to spend these dedicated funds because of the state budget impasse is causing serious financial hardship for state-funded homeless service providers, housing counseling agencies working with homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure and developers of affordable housing.

“The lack of state funding has severely impacted our financial stability and our ability to provide supportive housing and other services to people experiencing homelessness. We have exhausted our line of credit. We choose weekly what bills to pay with nearly $50,000 in payables that are past due. The budget impasse is only affecting the most vulnerable citizens of Illinois,” said Kevin McCullough, Chief Operating Officer for the ReVive Center in Chicago.

For the report, a survey of state-funded homeless service providers was completed. It’s estimated that among the 78 agencies responding:

  • 5,458 current clients already have had their services reduced or eliminated.
  • An additional 2,729 clients will have their services reduced or eliminated if the budget impasse continues through the first quarter of 2016.

These survey results represent just a snapshot of the larger universe of approximately 200 state-funded homeless service providers serving the needs of unaccompanied youth, individual adults and families with children at-risk of and/or experiencing homelessness.

The report also calls on Governor Rauner and members of the General Assembly to focus all their energy on resolving the impasse and agree to a FY 2016 budget with adequate revenue to fund services at the level passed by the General Assembly in May 2015.

The entire report is available by clicking here.