Features » May 26, 2017
Homelessness and Austerity: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Budget cuts to housing and social welfare programs are exacerbating the homelessness crisis.
“We’ve cut services back to a degree that now, people who are vulnerable are using the most expensive services,” says Sol Flores, Executive Director of La Casa Norte.
Tens of thousands of homeless Illinois residents rely on social services for housing support. The state’s ongoing budget crisis has led to drastic cuts in funding to these programs—up to 40%—leading to more mental health emergencies, more incarceration, and much higher costs for taxpayers.
This episode of Stranded by the State tracks the effects of these budget cuts on La Casa Norte, an agency that runs a permanent supportive housing program that serves chronically homeless youth ages 18 to 24. “We’ve cut services back to a degree that now, people who are vulnerable are using the most expensive services,” says Sol Flores, Executive Director of La Casa Norte.
Illinois has not passed a real budget in nearly two years, the first state to go that long without a budget since the Great Depression. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign off any budget that doesn’t also curtail collective bargaining rights, leading to a showdown with the state's Democrats.
Stranded by the State—an 8-part video series produced in partnership with Kartemquin Films—follows the families, workers and students living through these de facto budget cuts, showing the ways they deteriorate the fabric of Illinois communities.
The series incorporates data connecting the situation in Illinois to long-term trends of austerity nationwide—including the staggering cuts proposed in President Trump’s first budget.
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