The Illinois Budget Crisis' Affect on Affordable Housing Providers

​It is difficult to understand the debates in Illinois about the budget crisis. One of the reasons may be attributed to the lack of understanding of how it truly affects people and their day to day lives. My clinic team partner and I recently found out that the Illinois budget crisis has had an impact on one of our affordable housing clients.

In my previous blog post last semester, I discussed the importance of affordable housing organizations providing services to residents to help them transition into the private market. Our client provides services in areas such as education, financial literacy, and employment. The existence of these services helps create a sense of stability for residents with the hopes of making the transition into the private market easier. However, without proper funding, social service providers are either limited in the services provided or unable to provide the services altogether. This affects residents who do not have adequate resources to navigate their everyday lives making it that much more difficult to transition out of affordable housing. 

Not only does it affect residents living in affordable housing, but the budget crisis impacts other social service providers and different population segments. Seniors are losing their home health care workers who help them bathe, cook, clean, and take them to doctor appointments.  Children do not have after school programs, which forces parents to make other arrangements or work fewer hours. People who suffer from mental health issues are not able to seek the help they need. Until we attempt to understand the advantages of social service programs and those it benefits, there will continue to be a disconnect regarding the value of these programs and more of a willingness to cut funding for these programs. But even with this knowledge, we still may not comprehend the need for these types of services until it is on our doorstep and affects us or someone we know personally.

Additionally, the budget crisis is also having an effect on staff members who work at social service providers. With the lack of a budget, there is an air of uncertainty looming over the workplace. Providers have responded by laying people off because they cannot afford to keep their entire staff. This results in remaining workers picking up additional shifts, which causes them to be overworked. The impact of either losing one’s job or potentially losing one’s job is creating financial stresses for these individuals and their families. These staff workers, just like everyone else, are trying to make a living. The budget crisis is putting people in an extremely difficult position making it harder for individuals to meet certain financial obligations thus causing an adverse effect on their livelihood.

Most of us hope that the budget crisis is resolved soon so that social service providers can continue to provide services for their clientele.  Nonetheless, even once a budget is determined there is no guarantee that these services would return.