On July 6, 2017 the State of Illinois finally had a budget. A super-majority of the Illinois House and Senate voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner's veto ending the State’s two year budget impasse. But the impact of the budget impasse is something Illinoisans will feel for years to come.
The budget that was put in place generated new revenue and did not make any harmful cuts to any vital human services in the state. While putting a budget in place helped us avoid a total catastrophe, citizens across the state are still feeling the repercussions of the State ___ two years without a budget.
The social service sector was especially hit hard by the lack of a budget. Many of the organizations that received funding from the State waited over 8 months for payment. In fact, a recent report found that the State was $14.7 billion behind on its bills and also had late payment interest costs of roughly $800 million.
During the crisis social service organizations were forced to take unsustainable measures to keep their programs running; many had to tap into their cash reserves or use lines of credit.
In a survey conducted by the United Way of Illinois in April the organizations surveyed reported that they had to cut the number of clients they they served. Of those surveyed, 69 percent indicated that they received little to no payment for services rendered in Fiscal Year 2017.
Mental health services, substance abuse programs, early childhood education programs, and senior services were forced to make some of the largest cuts across the state. Furthermore, nearly half of the organizations surveyed reported that they were forced to eliminate programs due to lack to funding.
Seniors in the State saw a loss of services as a result. Seventeen percent of the senior serving organizations surveyed reported that they were forced to shut their doors.
According to a recent joint report by the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), Voices for Illinois Children, and Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL), women across the state were especially harmed by the impasse. During that time home visiting services for young mothers were cut, domestic violence shelters did not receive any funding, homelessness programs were forced to reduce programming, and college access through the Monetary Award Program (MAP) was reduced.
Seniors are also struggling as a result of the crisis. According to the joint report, senior meal delivery programs served fewer meals this year. For example, one agency reported that they once served 650 meals a day but were now only able to serve 400-450 meals a day.
Such programs are crucial for the well being of the seniors. Not only does the food provided help improve seniors’ nutrition outcomes but the visits by the staff and volunteers providing the food offers an opportunity for socialization and well-being checks.
The Responsible Budget Coalition also identified 21 home healthcare agencies that were forced to eliminate or reduce programs. These agencies served low-income seniors and people with disabilities and the lack of these critical services raises the likelihood of institutionalization that can otherwise be avoid with the proper access to services.
Sadly the impasse has hurt seniors and as a result of going two years without a budget seniors’ ability to live independently has been put in jeopardy.
The need for social services within our communities is growing and H.O.M.E. can be a resource to help those in your community that are the neediest. H.O.M.E provides housing and housing support services for low income seniors. We know that sharing a bus ride, saying hello, sharing a joke and a story with others can make a difference. H.O.M.E. brings together a unique combination of services in a supportive, senior-centered environment that lessens the burden of social isolation that many seniors face.
You can support our mission by joining Partners in Independence Club. As a member of our Partners in Independence Club your monthly donation will help provide H.O.M.E. with a consistent and reliable source of funding that will allow us to make an impact on the lives of low-income seniors in Chicago.
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