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Housing Crisis: Illinois Homeless Help to be cut in Half

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June 8, 2009

Chicago – Illinoisans struck by the blows of the recession often turn to public service organizations to help them get back on their feet, but those agencies are facing significant cuts or possible elimination under the current state budget. It calls for funding to be halved for agencies that operate homeless shelters and transitional housing programs.

The executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Joliet, Kathleen McGowan, says it's a devastating blow as the demand for homeless services increases.

"People who have been longtime workers may have lost their jobs and need help with rent or with mortgages; if services are cut, the reality is that people are really going to be in terrible, terrible despair."

Lawmakers approved a budget that falls almost 12 billion dollars short of covering the state's expenses.

McGowan says these funding reductions will result in more people losing their homes, and that will only worsen matters.

"I think there'll be just an overwhelming amount of people coming into shelters, and I'm just afraid the system will not be able to accommodate everybody."

She says an increase in revenue is needed as most human service organizations have already been trimmed to the core.

"We've had to do things in our agency like looking at expenses, cutting expenses back; we've had to do layoffs and in some instances close some programs."

Many nonprofit organizations are looking to lawmakers to pass progressive tax increases to preserve community-based efforts in health, human services and education. Governor Pat Quinn is standing behind an income tax increase to avoid massive budget cuts.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL