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Report: IL Budget Battle Hurting Housing Programs

Advocates for the homeless say Illinois' budget battle is tying up more than $100 million set aside for affordable housing. (iStockphoto)
Advocates for the homeless say Illinois' budget battle is tying up more than $100 million set aside for affordable housing. (iStockphoto)
December 28, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois has gone about half a year without a state budget, and advocates for the homeless say that's tying up more than a $100 million set aside for affordable-housing programs.

According to a new report from Housing Action Illinois and other groups, the state has seven dedicated funds set aside for housing programs, but the money can't be spent until state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner agree on a budget. Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, says that's leaving more than 170,000 Illinoisans living in uncertainty.

"A lot of homeless-service providers around the state are laying off staff, reducing intake of new clients," says Palmer. "After January 1, many additional service providers are going to be doing those same sorts of steps that are going to result in more people being homeless."

Palmer says the funds for these programs already are set aside and would not add to Illinois' budget deficit.

State lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol in Springfield on Jan. 13. Palmer's group and others, such as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, are urging legislators and Rauner to agree to at least allow the affordable-housing funds to be spent, even if the overall budget stalemate continues.

"Both the governor's office and the leaders in the General Assembly are using the part of the budget that's unfunded for bargaining chips to fight bigger political battles," Palmer says. "We want them to focus on serving people's basic human needs, like affordable housing."

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Illinois is among the top five states to see an increase in the number of homeless people over the past year.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL