FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michelle Nicolet, 312.368.2675
CHICAGO—The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law has filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in a lawsuit brought by social service providers who have not been paid during the state budget impasse. The Shriver Center represents 13 individual organizations and 6 coalitions representing nearly 600 additional organizations throughout Illinois that depend on the social services that are being diminished and eliminated due to the State of Illinois’ failure to pay providers.
Pay Now Illinois, a coalition of more than 80 provider agencies who have contracts with the state to provide social services, filed suit to demand that the State follow through on its contractual obligations and pay them for services they have provided without compensation during the Illinois budget impasse.
The amicus brief provides the court with context for the contractual dispute: the devastating real-world impact of the budget impasse on Illinois residents as the State forces providers to reduce—and in some instances eliminate entirely—vital services that families and individuals rely on for their very well-being and livelihood. Collectively, the friends of the court represent more than 544,000 individuals, including low-income, elderly, and disabled people, throughout Illinois.
Across the state, individuals and communities have suffered drastic consequences as a result of delayed and stopped payments to providers. Among the challenges facing organizations in the amicus brief:
- Organizations providing vital services to immigrant and refugee communities throughout the state have laid off approximately 200 employees and have closed down programs that assist immigrants with their English skills and their citizenship applications. Two organizations shut their doors. Programs created to assist migrant farm workers secure Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits have closed.
- Organizations throughout the state have seen a tremendous reduction in available mental health services. Hotlines established to handle landlord-tenant matters are being inundated with callers in need of mental health counseling. The wait time for residential substance abuse treatment has increased from two or three weeks to approximately ten weeks. Virtually all supportive services have been cut for clients who live in supportive housing and private market rental housing.
- The number of agency nursing home ombudsmen, who protect nursing home residents, has been reduced by as much as 60 percent. Organizations helping senior citizens combat elder abuse have also been forced to reduce staff.
- Eight home-care agencies employing 2,500 homecare aides have closed or withdrawn from the Illinois Department of Aging Community Care Program, which jeopardizes vital care for 3,000 disabled and elderly clients and more are at risk of closure.
“We hope the court acts in the interest of Illinoisans and compels payment for these services. But our state government should not be run through court orders. Our state must honor its contracts, keep its promises and provide for the common good of its people in the ordinary course of its business. This demands enactment of a fully funded budget now,” says John Bouman, President of the Shriver Center. “This cannot wait until after the next election or some other uncertain future date. Illinois and its people need a fully funded budget; we needed it yesterday and it must happen today.”
Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Housing Action Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sparrow Coalition, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Center for Changing Lives, Communities United, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, ONE Northside, The Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois, Service Employees International Union – Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, The Grassroots Collaborative, Voices for Illinois Children, LAF, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, and Prairie State Legal Services are asking leave to file an amicus brief in support of Pay Now Illinois.
“Illinois—particularly its Southern region—already has a weakened nonprofit system. The budget impasse has disturbed this very fragile network with catastrophic consequences,” said Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers. “We are giving voice to the thousands who depend on the valued services of Pay Now Illinois. The time is now to pay these contracts—and also pass a budget.”
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.orgDownload this