Pritzker cites UIC report in plan to reduce racial gap in homelessness 

Illinois’ Black residents are eight times more likely to be homeless than white residents, according to a recent report from the University of Illinois Chicago. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker highlighted this fact and the report, produced in partnership with the State of Illinois, at a recent news conference at UIC to announce his proposal to increase funding for homelessness services. 

The report, called Black Homelessness in Illinois: Structural Drivers of Inequality, from UIC’s Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, says factors such as a lack of affordable housing and the relationship between homelessness and incarceration have a bigger effect on homelessness rates for Black residents than for white residents. These factors have helped make Illinois’ racial homelessness gap one of the worst in the country, the report says, at double the national rate.  

Iván Arenas, associate director at the institute and one of the report’s authors, also spoke at the April 25 news conference.  

“Differences in access to resources and opportunities for growth along racial lines make it more likely for Black individuals and families to become unhoused,” he said, according to coverage of the news conference from WTTW, “and once unhoused, make it much more difficult for them to regain their stability.” 

The report stresses that structural factors contribute to this racial gap, as opposed to the notion that homelessness is a sign of personal failure — a theme Pritzker echoed in his remarks. 

“Our approach understands that homelessness is not an issue of personal failing, but of historical discrimination and structural barriers that have driven inequality for Black families across the nation and, of course, right here in Illinois,” Pritzker said during the news conference, according to WTTW. 

Pritzker’s proposed budget for next year includes an additional $50 million for homelessness services, bringing the proposed total to nearly $366 million. According to Chicago Sun-Times coverage of the news conference, $35 million of the proposed additional money would go to rental assistance, and $13 million would go to reducing racial disparities in homelessness rates. 

For more information, you can read the full report and see coverage of Pritzker’s news conference from the Chicago Sun-Times and WTTW. 

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