Ill. budget impasse causing irreparable damage to state social safety net: 6 things to know

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A recent survey shows Illinois' state budget crisis has caused serious harm to the state's social safety net, with many human service agencies forced to reduce services or shut down completely, according to Chicago Magazine.

Of the 172 human services agencies in Chicago's Cook, Lake, DuPage and Will counties surveyed by United Way in June, 91 percent said they have had to cut clients due to strained budgets — up from 37 percent of agencies that responded the same in July 2015. Human services agencies provide resources such as shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, mental healthcare, support for victims of domestic violence and educational services.

Here are six findings from United Way's survey, which comprised responses from 429 human services agencies across Illinois.

  • Without a budget in place, most human service organizations provide services without getting reimbursed by the state. According to United Way, the state owes the average Chicago-area agency $710,000.
  • Many agencies have resorted to using cash reserves (57 percent of agencies) and taking out lines of credit (33 percent). Altogether, the 172 human services agencies in the Chicago-area counties have picked up more than $27 million in debt.
  • More than half (55 percent) of the agencies said they would have to cut some services within the next six months if the state doesn't resolve its budget crisis.
  • Sixty-one groups — 36 percent — said they will have to shut down completely in that time frame.
  • Nearly 1 million Illinois residents have already been forced to go without 'critical services' due to the budget stalemate.
  • Many of the greatest effects are concentrated in the Chicago area, because that is where many large human service agencies are located.

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