I am very sorry to hear of the circumstances facing Ms. Goodwin and her family. Thank you for sharing her story and helping illuminate the critical need for immediate passage of a state budget with adequate funding for supportive housing.
In communities across Illinois, affordable supportive housing is all that stands between 12,000 men, women and children and a return to homelessness or other settings far more expensive for taxpayers. These individuals are formerly homeless and/or have special needs such as a mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, or chronic, debilitating physical illnesses like multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDS. Because of issues with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, veterans often are among the population served.
The absence of a state budget and resulting lack of funds for supportive housing threatens to drive these vulnerable people to the streets, jails, state institutions or nursing homes – alternatives to which they go when they cannot access these services. Taxpayers would then bear the cost of their emergency room visits, incarceration and other far more expensive crisis response measures.
The scenario could get even worse. If state policy makers don’t resolve the budget soon, local supportive housing providers could lose federal funding as well. Implosion of the state’s human services infrastructure – and the toll for Illinois communities – would be far-reaching and lasting.
For each dollar the state allocates for certain homeless supportive housing services, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provides three. But Illinois providers must demonstrate by Nov. 20 that $7.6 million in state funds will be available in order to leverage the annual federal funds. If they can’t do that, they risk forfeiting $23 million – an entire fiscal year of federal funds.
Without state funds dedicated by the Nov. 20 deadline, there is no assurance the federal matching dollars will materialize over the next year. If the agencies managing supportive housing services lose that support, closures and wholesale service reductions will be unavoidable.
After food and clothing, shelter is the most elemental need; without the stability and safety it affords, individuals cannot overcome the challenges they face. Positive outcomes of supportive housing include housing stability and retention, improved quality of life and health outcomes, reduced homelessness and emergency room use, greater participation in behavioral health treatment, and lower healthcare costs.
We respectfully urge policy makers to immediately focus on approving a state budget with adequate funds for supportive housing. Failure to do so will prompt catastrophic consequences statewide, and it will significantly increase costs for taxpayers for years to come.
If I may be helpful in answering any questions you have about Illinois supportive housing, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank for you for your time.
Supportive Housing Providers Association