Mayor’s 2022 Budget Proposal Includes $ 214 Million in Housing Assistance | Chicago News

A homeless camp in Chicago. (WTTW News)

This story is part of WTTW’s Firsthand initiative that explores poverty in Chicago.

The city’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year will include up to $ 214 million in housing assistance for Chicago’s homeless population, with funding provided by the US bailout, also known as federal stimulus plan. The budget package will be the city’s biggest investment in tackling homelessness.

The money will be used for a variety of programs, including $ 25 million to tackle gender-based violence in the city, $ 20 million in rent subsidies and $ 30 million to convert hotels into affordable housing.

In addition to housing assistance, the city’s $ 30 million Universal Basic Income pilot program will provide $ 500 per month to 5,000 low-income families each year.

In his budget speech last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot highlighted the need to increase funding for the Chicago Police Department to $ 1.9 billion, providing officers with mental health services and additional training. . At the same time, the mayor spoke about her perspective on homelessness and then spoke about investing in affordable housing.

“In addition to violence prevention, this budget also prioritizes homelessness, affordable housing, with new dollars to meet the needs of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents,” Lightfoot said. “First, we will increase homelessness prevention funding by 36%, injecting $ 5 million into our flexible housing pool to support people who frequently use crisis systems, such as emergency rooms and shelters, so we can connect them to supportive housing. “

While homeless rights groups are happy with the proposed increase in funding, they are calling for a long-term source of income that supports those who need it most.

Doug Schenkelberg, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said the mayor’s proposal was enough but just “not enough” to end the fight against homelessness.

“We were happy to see that our mayor included significant sums in the budget, although it was not as much as we had advocated,” said Schenkelberg. “Corn [the funding] is the most we have ever received. Our concern, like many others, is that this is a single source of funding. We will only have a long-term impact if we have a long-term funding stream, which we have been advocating for a long time.

Yet Schenkelberg says the problem goes beyond housing assistance – there is also a strong need for mental health services.

“They are facing health issues,” Schenkelberg said. “They are facing mental health issues. They are facing drug addiction issues. A lot of these things can cause someone to become homeless, but the solution is really simple. We need a permanent housing project and support services that address the issues presented to them. This budget includes money to afford that type of permanent housing and other services, but we have to include mental health services.

He also proposed another solution.

“The Real Estate Transfer Tax, which is a one-time tax payment that people pay when buying or selling a property, could generate up to $ 100 million in new income each year. “said Schenkelberg. “This money can be spent on affordable housing and homelessness and could house approximately 45,000 homeless people over a period of several years. This could be a real, tangible and achievable solution for Chicago in a few years. “

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