Hunter: It’s time to prioritize social service agencies (AUDIO)

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is fighting for funding for domestic violence shelters following a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week. Advocates including Vickie Smith, Executive Director of ICADV, testified about the negative effects the budget impasse has had on domestic violence shelters across the state.

“In the late 1980s I served as a director for a domestic violence shelter and know firsthand how critical the services they provide are,” Hunter said. “By not funding these essential services, victims may stay in their homes longer and suffer ongoing abuse because they have nowhere else to go. It is a real shame that in their time of greatest need, the state is not willing or able to step up and support these victims.”

Domestic violence shelter funding was omitted in the FY17 budget. Since then, many domestic violence shelters have been forced to lay off staff, reduce services or even shut their doors due to the lack of state funding.

“Every single agency raises private dollars,” said Smith on “The 21st" radio program on NPR. “But the money from the state is the core of operating funds. It keeps the lights on; it keeps the phone bill paid; and it pays their rent. If the agencies don’t have the core operating fund it’s really difficult to provide extra services… Considering everything is built around that.”

To help support domestic violence shelters and social service agencies across the state, Hunter introduced legislation to include all social service agencies in the Prompt Payment Act. At this time, some organizations have waited over nine months to receive payment.

“We should treat the people who care for our most vulnerable citizens fairly,” Hunter said. “Social service agencies have been bearing the financial burden of the state of Illinois for months.”

Since the budget stalemate began, the Illinois Senate has proposed a multitude of funding solutions.

“I’m not sure what the governor is doing, but people are begging for progress and for fiscal stability,” Hunter said. “It’s time for him to lead and do his job.”

Listen to the full radio clip here: