State Lawmaker at State Capital Hosts ZOOM Press Conference With Homeless and Healthcare Providers Ahead of CARES Budget Votes
Those Serving the Homeless Urge Governor Pritzker and State Legislators to Prioritize CARES funding to Support Homeless and Housing
May 21, 2021 Thursday—A Safe Haven Foundation President and Co-Founder Neli Vazquez Rowland joined State Representative LaShawn K. Ford for a Zoom Press Conference with Chicago’s top homeless advocates and providers, healthcare officials and members of the newly formed Chicago Homeless and Health Response Group for Equity Members (CHHRGE). CHRRGE membership includes over 100 individuals representing some of the top homeless and healthcare systems in Chicago for a Zoom press conference urging Governor J.B. Pritzker and state elected officials to prioritize state and federal funding to support homeless efforts today as the state legislature convene and vote on the Cares Budget allocation during end of session today and tomorrow. The federal government has allowed all governors to have flexibility on how to spend their State Cares allocations.
“It’s critical that we invest in our homeless population and those who tirelessly care for them,” said Ford, co-chair of New State of Illinois Homeless and Housing Committee. “In the midst of a pandemic, this is a community that can be overlooked but absolutely should not be. Homeless providers are on the front lines delivering care to a vulnerable population. Let’s make sure they have the resources needed to do their job safely.”
During the Zoom conference, Vazquez Rowland said that “a Columbia University study suggests that aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic will increase the number of homeless by 45%. According to the Coalition for the Homeless there are already 86,000 homeless including those that live on the streets and doubled up populations. Today there are an estimated 5,400 homeless living on the streets according to HUD and there are only around 4,000 homeless funded beds in Chicago according to All Chicago Continuum of Care. So, if that prediction becomes a reality for Chicago then we will be facing an additional 38,700 and we will end up with 125,000 homeless in Chicago.”
She explained because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were financially hurt with the lockdown and will not have jobs that were there before. She believes that the state government “must prioritize funding fully developed models and plan to accelerate and reinforce our ability to respond accordingly so that everyone who needs a place to land and to transition to get back on track. There are also lots of studies that show that by helping people in crisis we reduce the cost of police protection, emergency healthcare, criminal justice and long-term government dependence in many ways.”
She added that the “CARES funding is precious capital that we need to invest in responding to pandemic while creating a sustainable infrastructure. We need to implement budgeting for results and the 1115 Medicaid Waiver that are both passed and valuable resources that can help us also find sustainable funding. As we start to reopen the economy, on the front lines we are ready to respond in direct proportion to how much funding we are allocated to help save lives and taxpayer dollars, too. Our state budgets require us to be very strategic on how we spend this one time money and what we invest in to sustain ourselves to be able to live within our means and reduce more unsustainable costs. The silver lining is that we have an opportunity to fix a broken and expensive system.”
About A Safe Haven
A Safe Haven Foundation is a 501(c)3 not for profit, social enterprise that helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose. For more than 25 years, A Safe Haven has provided the tools for each individual to overcome the root causes of homelessness through a holistic and scalable model which includes substance abuse treatment, education, job training and employment, and phased-housing. A Safe Haven’s visible social and economic impact unites families, stabilizes neighborhoods, and creates vibrant, viable communities. For more information, visit asafehaven.org, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube.