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Illinois forms state task force to address homelessness

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(The Center Square) – A new law sets up a state-run task force with the aim of getting Illinois to “functional zero” homelessness.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed House Bill 2381, which creates a state task force to end homelessness in Illinois. The measure aims to move Illinois to “functional zero” by “bolstering the safety net, targeting high-risk populations, expanding affordable housing, securing financial stability for unhoused individuals, and closing the mortality gap.”

The bill codifies the Interagency Task Force and Community Advisory Council, formed in 2021 to work across 17 Illinois state departments and agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to combat homelessness.

Pritzker said that for too long homelessness has not been adequately addressed throughout the country.

“It is a choice made by our whole society, and as a nation, we have chosen, frankly, to ignore homelessness rather than to remedy it,” Pritzker said. “But here in the Land of Lincoln, we are choosing a different path.”

According to state numbers, Black Illinoisans comprise 61% of the state’s unhoused population despite comprising only 14% of the overall population.

Pritzker said no person in Illinois should have to battle homelessness alone.

“Every person deserves access to safe shelter and the dignity that comes with housing,” Pritzker said. “This is a first-of-its-kind multi-agency cooperative effort bringing together state agencies, nonprofit organizations, advocates, and people with lived experience to prevent and end homelessness. I’m grateful for their dedication and believe that together, we can prevent and end homelessness once and for all.”

The state’s budget sets aside $360 million for the task force, with $118 million to support unhoused populations seeking shelter and services. Also appropriated is about $40.7 million for the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program, $50 million in Rapid Rehousing services for 2,000 households and $40 million in Permanent Supportive Housing.

The funding is an $83 million increase from last year’s budget.

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