After nearly two months of halted negotiations, there is still no agreement in Illinois over the fiscal year 2016 budget. Since July 1, Inspiration Corporation has lost half of its supportive housing budget. The remaining half continues to hang in the balance. Unless we are able to close the gap, clients will soon begin seeking necessary services at other community agencies that are also experiencing cuts, exacerbating both their and our own caseload problems. Participants may be left feeling isolated by not just society at large, but the agencies they have depended on, sometimes for years. In the long-term, we may lose key relationships with landlords in the community, and our participants could end up back on the street. Given the current fiscal situation, we will be unable to stay true to our mission of empowering people to improve their lives and become self-sufficient.
As a partner agency with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, we recently participated in a survey about the effects of the unresolved budget stalemate on social service organizations. The findings of this study were shocking. 34% of Illinois human service agencies have cut the number of clients they serve. One of the hardest hit service areas is employment training programs like ours. Inspiration Corporation has already been forced to lay-off two Housing Retention Specialists, dramatically increasing the caseload of remaining housing staff. If the stalemate continues, not only will the percentage of agencies making cuts continue to rise, the ability of Inspiration Corporation to meet the basic needs of our participants will shrink.
Call the governor and your state legislators today and tell them we can no longer stand by while our most vulnerable neighbors see the safety-net dwindle away. If you’ve volunteered with us, tell them about the participants you know personally and that they deserve to have their basic needs met. Pressure our lawmakers to pass a responsible and fair budget immediately. Contact your elected representatives today and insist they pass a budget that protects supportive housing programs for homeless and low-income Chicagoans. Click on this link to find your State Legislator now!