Listen Live
Listen Live

Researchers, governor release report on Black homelessness in Illinois

SHARE NOW

(The Center Square) – Researchers from the University of Illinois joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday to release a report detailing the contributing factors to Black homelessness around the state.

Pritzker is increasing funding in an effort to combat homelessness among Blacks in Illinois. Pritzker said he is earmarking $250 million in the fiscal year 2025 budget, an increase of $50 million from last year to address the structural factors contributing to racial inequalities in homelessness.

“We’re dedicating $13 million specifically to work on reducing racial disparities in homelessness,” said Pritzker. “These funds will pilot programs that reach at-risk populations, such as formerly incarcerated individuals and foster youth to connect them with safe and dignified housing and support.”

Pritzker is also dedicating $35 million for rental assistance.

According to the report, Black residents in Illinois are almost eight times more likely to be unhoused than white residents. The gap is one of the worst in the nation and double the national rate.

The Office to Prevent and End Homelessness gathered a group of experts on the Black homeless population, including people who have experienced homelessness themselves.

“As our state embarks on this journey of change, our struggles may have defined us, but they will not defeat us,” said Blaire Flowers, who was formerly homeless.

According to Pritzker, the project called Black Homelessness in Illinois Structural Drivers of Inequality, is one of the first statewide assessments to look at the disparity and the first in the nation to be released in partnership with state government.

“The data and analysis in this report demonstrates that we cannot understand homelessness without taking seriously the ways structural racism shapes patterns of housing insecurity,” said Ivan Arenas, with UIC’s Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy.

The governor’s “Home Illinois” plan is part of his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, and must be approved by state lawmakers.