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Budget Balancing Act Hits Illinois Front Door Steps

June 23, 2008

Chicago, IL - Almost 10,000 people in Illinois are making plans to move - and not by choice. That's how many have seen foreclosure proceedings filed against them in the past month, according to RealtyTrac.

A combination of foreclosures and rising energy prices has prompted more people to ask for help finding affordable housing, according to Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois. He says the same factors also have increased the state's homeless numbers and, while the economic ripple effect touches many, it's a tide that state policymakers could help reverse.

"One of the great things the state can do, to get the economy healthy again, is invest more money in programs that work toward meeting people's basic human needs."

Some believe budget cuts must be made to bring the state's books in line. But Palmer says, just like a household budget, there are other options for Illinois, including earning more money - which can be done with progressive income tax restructuring - and sales tax reform.

"If we were to take steps like that, we would not be in this situation, collectively wringing our hands each year and wondering how we're going to pay our bills."

The governor and legislative leaders seem to agree, adds Palmer, since they've recently approved increases in affordable housing investments and systems to end homelessness. Until the out-of-balance budget is fixed, however, he sees a risk that the money may not be allocated.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IL