Like a shopaholic who has tapped out her Visa, the state of Illinois is maxed out, with a roughly $13 billion deficit and $5 billion in unpaid bills.
Awash in red ink, the state is now postponing payments and cutting cash to nonprofit charity and community service providers. Many of these organizations have already faced declining donations over the last several years due to the down economy—forming a perfect funding storm that has beleaguered budgets.
Here’s how a few of organizations in the northern suburbs are feeling the pain.
The Family Network Center
Whether it’s offering at-risk families after-school programs or classes in financial literacy and nutrition, the folks at the Family Network Center in Highland Park have their hands full. Last year alone, they served around 1,600 people. But facing late payments and cuts from the state of up to 12 percent this year, the center may soon have to re-examine how many people they can help in the future. “We’re not quite clear how this is going to shake out,” says Director Jordan Friedman. The center’s $700,000-budget, he says, relies on the state for about 30 percent of its overall revenue.
To help the Family Network, visit familynetworkcenter.org.
Fur Keeps Animal Rescue
Two years ago, Fur Keeps, a nonprofit holistic animal shelter in Barrington Hills, was receiving 10 percent of its funding from the state. As a result of cuts, that percentage has dwindled to zero for the shelter, which was founded 11 years ago. As the economy bottomed out, need for their services grew. Now, the group is looking for ways to boost their donations. A message on their website asks the community to donate items in high demand: wire crates, dog bowls and animal bedding. “The biggest thing for us is the number of animals to rescue is going up exponentially,” says founder Debra Rykoff.
To help Fur Keeps, visit furkeepsanimalrescue.org.
SHORE Community Services, Inc.
For more than 300 children and adults in the northern suburbs who struggle with development disabilities, SHORE is a pivotal part of their daily lives. From helping these people become more independent through job skills to offering them therapy, the Skokie-based organization provides “pretty essential stuff,” says Executive Director Gerald Gulley. So essential, in fact, that the state of Illinois has run up a $1.4-million unpaid tab and more than six months of delayed payments for services that the organization has already provided. Delaying repairs to their facilities and laying off staff haven’t been enough to stop the bleeding. Things have gotten so bad, Gulley says, that SHORE has taken out a line of credit from a local bank just to help pay utility bills. What’s worse? “We have been advised by Springfield to prepare for some greater delays,” Gulley says.
To help SHORE, visit shoreinc.org.
You can also write your local representative. Here are tips on contacting your state legislator about the state budget crisis.