West side officials urge more funding for the homeless

May 17, 2020
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Days before lawmakers return to Springfield, state Reps. La Shawn K. Ford, Delia Ramirez and Lindsey LaPointe will join homeless advocates Sunday morning from A Safe Haven to push for more support of the homeless and homeless prevention in the next state budget.

The lawmakers, who represent parts of Chicago’s West Side including Austin, also are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to direct federal resources toward homelessness.

“The homeless population is an overlooked community during this pandemic, but it’s also one of the most vulnerable,” Ford said in a statement.

“As we craft a budget to meet our state’s most critical needs, we have to ensure that those on the front lines and working with the homeless are not forgotten and that they meet the maximum of amount of direct funding possible.”

Ford said the governor also needs to use his spending authority to direct federal relief from the CARES Act to homeless services that need help for their COVID-19 response.

Sunday’s press conference is being held at A Safe Haven, 2750 W. Roosevelt Road, which provides transitional housing and full wrap-around services for general and COVID-19 quarantined homeless populations.

The non-profit was the first homeless program in Chicago to open homeless isolation medical respite space for up to 100 people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. RUMC and Heartland Alliance is partnering with A Safe Haven to provide medication-assisted services (MAT) for any patients that need it.

“It’s in the best interest of all of us to make sure we are properly funding established shelter programs and health and behavioral healthcare services to meet the surge in demand by current homeless populations,” Neli Vazquez-Rowland, president and co-founder of A Safe Haven President, said in a statement.

“We must also make sure that those providing care to the homeless are treated on par with all other frontline healthcare workers,” Vazquez-Rowland said, adding that these workers need access to personal protection equipment and other resources to protect their safety.

“It’s critically important that homeless services are prioritized,” she said.

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