Homelessness and Austerity: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Budget cuts to housing and social welfare programs are exacerbating the homelessness crisis.

In These Times and Kartemquin Films

Tens of thousands of homeless Illinois residents rely on social services for housing support.

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.

“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.

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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