Possible shutdown puts social services in jeopardy

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The state has contracts with hundreds of non-profits who provide services and programs for thousands of Illinois residents. Without state money, many of the organizations would have to shut down, or at the very least, cut staff and services.

Without state money, places like West Town's Erie Neighborhood House would not exist. The 145-year-old organization provides programs for low-income immigrant families.

"We have high-quality, nationally-accredited preschool, after-school youth programs, work force development, adult education technology," said Celena Roldan Moreno, executive director at Erie Neighborhood House.

All those programs are at risk if Springfield fails to act. Over 50 percent of Erie House's budget comes from the state.

"Starting tomorrow, July 1, Erie stands to lose $250,000 a month from all of the state-funding that we receive for all of our state programs," Moreno said.

Moreno says the non-profit has a line of credit and enough cash to keep going until July 15. After that, furloughs and staff layoffs are inevitable.

Maria Pesqueira, who run sMujeres Latinas en Accion (Latin Women Taking Action), is in the same boat. The Pilsen organization provides crisis intervention for domestic violence and sex abuse, economic empowerment and educational classes for teenagers.

"Just the different opportunities that we're given here is amazing," said Evelyn Samano, a program participant.

Forty percent of Mujeres Latinas' budget comes from the state.

"Organizations like ours have become political pawns in this fight," Pesqueira said.

Pesqueira said it's time for Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan to put their political ideals aside and think of people affected by their inaction.

"It comes down to priorities and what is important in this state. The people in this state should be priority," Pesqueira said.

Over 300 social service agencies have sent a letter to Gov. Rauner and the leadership in Springfield urging them to come to an agreement. Non-profits and state workers plan to hold a rally at the Thompson Center beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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