The Illinois General Assembly and Governor have passed a temporary “stopgap” budget for the just completed fiscal year (FY 2016) and the first six months of the just started fiscal year (FY 2017). This is a much-needed respite after an entire year of paralysis—but it is nowhere near enough. It does not come anywhere close to undoing the damage of our year-long budget impasse.
A massive backlog of unpaid bills has built up from Illinois’ lack of adequate revenue to pay its bills, and uncompensated service providers—many of whom have signed contracts to provide services from the recently completed fiscal year—will have to get in line with others waiting to paid.
What we need is clear: a fully funded, full-year, responsible budget. Such a budget will have sufficient revenue to stop making cuts, restore previous cuts and allow Illinois to making smart investments. We stand with the Responsible Budget Coalition in calling on lawmakers to accept nothing less than this going forward.
What does the stopgap budget mean for efforts to protect and expand affordable housing and end homelessness?
The percentage of funding available in the stopgap budget for each state-funded program to create affordable housing and end homelessness compared to the last year for which there was an actual budget, FY 2015, varies based on the funding source and appropriation levels. See our breakdown of funding levels for programs to create affordable housing and end homelessness in the stopgap budget »
Dedicated funds for affordable housing (e.g., the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund) were generally fully appropriated both for fiscal year 2016 and the fiscal year 2017. Programs that historically have been funded through General Revenue Funds only received partial appropriations for costs incurred during FY 2016 (ending June 30, 2016) and the first half of FY 2017 (ending on December 31, 2016) using funds from the Commitment to Human Services Fund (which is funded through income taxes).
In general, the stopgap budget means:
- Homeless shelters and transitional housing providers for families, single adults and unaccompanied youth will be able to get paid for at least a portion of the work they completed in FY2016 and that they will complete in FY2017.
- Small homelessness prevention grants for families and individuals experiencing a temporary crisis will once again be available.
- State-funded services, such as case management and counseling, in permanent supportive housing for people with mental health issues and/or who were formerly homeless, will start to receive funding again. For some of these programs, the funding will be significantly reduced compared to prior years.
- State-funded housing counseling for people working to avoid foreclosure or purchase a home will be available again.
- Developers of affordable rental units and single-family homes will have access to financing resources, such as the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, that have not been available for the past year.
State-funded service providers with contracts will need to get more information from state agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, to determine specific funding amounts for services already provided during FY 2016 and/or to be provided during FY 2017.
A report that we issued less than three months into the year-long state budget impasse demonstrated that people were becoming homeless due to the impasse as most every state-funded agency took one or more of the following actions—limiting intake of new clients; reducing or eliminating services for current clients; staff layoffs, implementing furlough days or reduced work hours for staff; eliminating programs; and/or closing sites.
A subsequent report showed that the funds were available to make these steps unnecessary, but our elected leaders could not come to an agreement to spend the money.
There is a pause in the impasse, but our work is far from over. Stay tuned for future updates and actions.