Most Illinois homeless service providers have already been, or will soon be, forced to deny assistance to people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness because of the budget impasse, shows a new survey by housing advocacy groups.
Of the 101 homeless service providers in Illinois who responded to the survey, 90 percent said the budget stalemate has forced, or will soon force, them to take at least one of the following steps: "limiting intake of new clients; reducing or eliminating services for current clients; staff layoffs, implementing furlough days or reduced work hours for staff; eliminating programs; and/or closing sites."
The survey, conducted August 14 through September 2, was developed by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing), Housing Action Illinois and Supportive Housing Providers Association.
Officials at several Illinois homeless service agencies were quoted in a report on the survey results.
"One of our adolescent substance abuse treatment programs has closed, impacting 90 youth," Rick Velasquez, executive director of the Chicago-based Youth Outreach Services, said in the report. "If the budget impasse is not resolved in September, we will have to eliminate our host home and shelter services for runaway and homeless youth who are seeking a safe and better future away from violence in their homes and on the streets."
The survey also showed that 59 percent of providers have seen demand for services increase because of reductions at other agencies.
The situation at Courage Connection, a Champaign-based provider of services to domestic violence victims and people experiencing homelessness, was also featured in the report.
"We provide services to over 800 people a year, including a 24-hour domestic violence shelter, emergency shelter and transitional housing," said Courage Connection's Executive Director Isak Griffiths. "On average, we have 60 women and children in shelter at any time. Payroll alone is over $40,000 every two weeks. We had cash reserves but they are gone. We have the cash on hand to make one more payroll in September. And then we don't know what we'll do. If we lay off staff, then we put our federal funding at risk."
Since July 1, when the state entered the new fiscal year without a budget in place, homeless service providers have received no state funding for several initiatives, including Emergency and Transitional Housing, Homelessness Prevention, Homeless Youth and Supportive Housing Services, according to the report.
Housing advocates are calling for a responsible state budget that includes adequate revenue.
"We need a responsible budget now. Elected officials, Governor Rauner and others must stop using children and families as bargaining chips to address non-budget demands," said Bob Palmer, policy director at Housing Action Illinois. "We call on Governor Rauner and members of the General Assembly to focus all their energy on resolving the impasse and agree to a budget with adequate revenue to fund services as passed by the General Assembly in May."