As many of you are aware of, the state has laid out its proposed budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year. We are very concerned about the negative effect that the planned cuts will have on our ability to serve our guests and are working closely with other advocacy groups in order to share our concerns with Springfield. It is still early in the fight but the following is what could happen if the state budget is balanced on the backs of the marginalized and most vulnerable citizens in our state:
- Proposed is the elimination of funding for supportive services and case management for Chronically Homeless Disabled Individuals and Families currently housed stably in our LIGHT-House Permanent Supportive Housing Program (80+ people), which could directly lead to higher numbers and longer stays in our PADS shelter program.
- Homeless Prevention funding is proposed to be cut 25%, which means that 2-3 more households each month will become homeless and enter our PADS shelter program, as we will not have the funds to prevent them from losing their housing during crisis. Thus households including children that currently would not enter the homeless shelter system will lose their stability and enter homelessness.
- Our PADS shelter funding will be flat funded, but 100% of the funds for the shelter program will be diverted from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, meaning that less affordable housing development will occur as funds earmarked for this purpose are being diverted to emergency shelters. This means that affordable housing options for those trying to exit homelessness will be fewer and harder to come by.
- Other crucial services that the guests and residents of Hesed House access are also proposed to face significant funding cuts, including mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, subsidized and affordable child-care for the working poor, inpatient psychiatric treatment, $1.6 billion proposed cuts in Medicaid, etc… These proposed cuts will mean less access to critical services and longer waits to access services for those who are trying to rebuild their lives and climb back out of the chaos of homelessness.
- Combined, these proposed cuts will lead to less help to leave the shelter and more households entering the shelter and will amount to about $130,000-$150,000 loss of operating support for Hesed House.
Our advocacy strategy and plan is to continue to have one-on-one and small group meetings with our area state senators and state representatives, letting them know the unimaginable harm that these proposed budget cuts will have on those we all serve on a daily basis. We will be asking them to oppose these proposed budget cuts, and to not allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable families and individuals in Illinois.
On May 6th, several staff, guests and supporters journeyed to Springfield for a major rally in opposition to these cuts, advocating on behalf of and with those we serve, being a voice for the voiceless, the marginalized and the vulnerable.
Following the May 6th rally in Springfield, we will be sending out targeted Advocacy Alerts seeking assistance from all of our supporters and volunteers in contacting their state senators, representatives and the governor’s office. Please be on the lookout for these Urgent Advocacy Alert Emails throughout May and June, as we push to maintain current levels of critical services funding for those we serve in the upcoming State of Illinois Fiscal Year Budget, which goes into effect on July 1st, 2015.
Last but not least thank you for your prayers and support. We cannot do what we do without you!