State budget mess threatens the formerly homeless with return to - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

State budget mess threatens the formerly homeless with return to homelessness

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)
MARION, IL (KFVS) -

Illinois’s budget mess could now force the formerly homeless back out of the homes they’ve worked hard to get.

The Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless had to make cuts to staff and services when it learned state support that helps keep people in the 24 southernmost counties of Illinois off the street had been slashed in half in the 2016 fiscal year.

What is worse, due to the state budget impasse the program didn’t even get the funding it was promised.

“We’ve not received a cent - nothing from the state since July 1,” said director Camille Dorris.

One of the Coalition’s programs that helps the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless with paying the rent is at risk itself.

“When you think about how much it takes to rent a place – first months, last months and deposit trying to get back on your feet you keep spinning your wheels sometimes,” said Dorris. “It’s really a cycle that’s hard to get out of. Homelessness is right in your face, you’d be surprised.”

Holly Phelps, a mother of two girls ages eight and nine, is among the 28 families served by the Coalition’s Affordable Housing program. After Phelps was released from prison she found many doors were closed to her, and finding housing was very difficult.

“I wanted a new beginning, it hasn’t been easy,” said Phelps. “I was kind of in a position where if I didn’t find a place to live I was probably going to lose my daughters because I had nowhere to keep them. Without the coalition, I would probably be on the streets.”

The Affordable Housing program operates largely through the help of a federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant. However, with no state funds coming in, Dorris said the Coalition doesn’t have the matching monies necessary to secure the grant.

“Without that match amount we’re at risk of losing over $300,000 in federal grants and people’s housing units,” said Dorris. “That’s 28 units of housing where people may once again find themselves homeless.”

If the Coalition can’t come up with $45,000 by July 1, Phelps and others like her will have a much tougher time holding onto the places they’ve come to call home.

“My daughters and I are so happy now. I love them and they love me and they each have their own bedroom. We have a home now,” said Phelps. “I hope that something happens and a door opens and we’re all going to be okay.”

A Dodgeball Tournament fundraiser is planned for April 9, 2016 at the Hub Recreation Center in Marion, Illinois. The cost to participate is $200 per six person team.

For more information call the Coalition for the Homeless at 618-993-0094, or email sichome_05@yahoo.com.

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