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Pritzker launches task force, initiatives to reduce homelessness in Illinois

(The Center Square) – State officials are launching a new effort, including a task force, to fight homelessness in Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued an Executive Order that establishes the Illinois Interagency Task Force on Homelessness and the new position of State Homelessness Chief to lead the task force.

It also provides for a Community Advisory Council on Homelessness consisting of stakeholders that represent the population described in the executive order, including people with disabilities, people with lived experience, the philanthropic sector, and local organizations.

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of January 2020, Illinois had an estimated 10,431 people experiencing homelessness on any given day. Of the total, around 1,000 were family households, 736 were Veterans, and 671 were unaccompanied young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

“It can be a transgender teen banished from a house that refuses them, it can be a single mother of three escaping one bad option for another, it can be a person with disabilities,” Pritzker said.

Under the direction of the Homelessness Chief, who will work within the Department of Human Services, the task force will develop and implement a plan to prevent and address the effects of homelessness. Officials say the ultimate goal is to achieve functional zero homelessness.

“This new task force is an opportunity to build upon the existing work and commitment of our administration to combat homelessness in our state,” IDHS Secretary Grace Hou said. “The COVID-19 Housing and Utility Assistance Project provides temporary and emergency housing and utility assistance to immigrants, refugees, and limited English proficient individuals who experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship.”

For residents in need, IDHS is accepting applications for rental assistance until the funding runs out.

“Ending homelessness and ensuring every neighbor has access to shelter and supportive services has always been possible on the northwest side of Chicago, in Illinois and nationwide,” state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, said.

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