More Budget Cuts and Delayed Payments Will Increase Homelessness in Illinois

Chicago, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Four advocacy groups working to create affordable housing and end homelessness released a report today demonstrating that unless the State of Illinois passes comprehensive tax reform even more people will lose their housing and become homeless. The entire report is available at www.housingactionil.org.

The report was based on a survey of state-funded providers of homelessness prevention funds, emergency shelter, homeless youth programs, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.

Among the survey’s key findings were:

  1. Agencies are already turning people in need of housing away due to state budget cuts. Sixty-one agencies turned away 1,292 people in January 2010 because of prior year state budget cuts, representing 9% of the 13,720 people they were able to serve. This does not include additional people who were turned away for issues not related to state budget cuts, such as lack of bed space.
  2. Agencies are already owed a significant amount of money by the state and are taking on additional debt to manage the crisis. In total, 54 agencies are owed $10.2 million from the state in delayed payments, or about $189,000 per agency. The average delay in state payments is slightly less than 3 months, with delays as high as 9 months.
  3. State-funded programs create jobs and leverage federal funding. State funding for 61 agencies supports more than 1,600 jobs across Illinois. Forty-nine agencies are leveraging $47.7 million in federal funds every year that depend on a state match.
  4. More budget cuts will result in fewer people receiving services and the loss of state-funded jobs. Based on the responses of 66 agencies, if programs are cut substantially in the FY11 budget, 79% of agencies would have to reduce services and 74% of agencies would have to lay off staff. Forty-one percent of agencies would have to eliminate programs.

The agencies surveyed are funded by line items that receive a combined $36.5 million in state funding. While that total represents only a small portion of state funding—less than 1% of the $4 billion in total General Revenue Funding for the Illinois Department of Human Services—the harm caused by cuts to these programs are troubling examples of the larger impact of cuts to human services overall.

“While Governor Quinn deserves credit for acknowledging the need for revenue increases, his proposal falls far short of what is needed,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn released his fiscal year 2011 budget proposal on March 10. He proposed over $2 billion in cuts. Although not included in his formal proposal, Governor Quinn is advocating for a 1% increase in the income tax.

The report was prepared by the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois and the Supportive Housing Providers Association. All four groups are members of the Responsible Budget Coalition.

“The 200-plus organizations of the Responsible Budget Coalition believe the best and fairest way to adequately fund all our essential priorities—education, health care, human services, public safety and more–is through comprehensive tax reform like House Bill 174, that passed in the Illinois Senate in 2009,” said Lore Baker, Assistant Director for the Supportive Housing Providers Association.