With state assistance drying up, Catholic Urban Programs is on the lookout for more funding to help pay for hotel vouchers for homeless people in Belleville this winter.
On Tuesday, Gerry Hasenstab, executive director of the Catholic Urban Programs in East St. Louis, received help from Belleville Township trustees who voted unanimously to give the agency $15,000 to be used for emergency hotel vouchers.
Hasenstab told the board his agency spent about $30,000 on hotel vouchers last winter in the metro-east, with about half of that being spent on homeless people in Belleville.
Since our funds have really been depleted, we won’t be able to assist as many folks based on our own funds.
Gerry Hasenstab, executive director of Catholic Urban Programs
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“In the Belleville area, there is no overnight shelter in severe cold” weather, Hasenstab told the board. “Since our funds have really been depleted, we won’t be able to assist as many folks based on our own funds.”
Hasenstab said Catholic Urban Programs has good contacts with the police and area hospitals, especially on nights and weekends. “They call us,” he said, when they encounter homeless people during cold snaps.
Hasenstab said as a result of the state budget impasse, agencies such as Catholic Urban Programs have not received funding to pay for hotel vouchers.
Township Supervisor Dennis Korte said the $15,000 would come from the township’s contingency fund.
Township officials are still reviewing language for an ordinance to dissolve the township, which was founded in 1885. Gov. Bruce Rauner in August signed a bill that allows township trustees to pass an ordinance to dissolve the township in an effort to save in overhead costs.
The township has the same borders as the city of Belleville and if the township dissolves, the city is required to take over the township’s responsibilities of giving general assistance to individuals. Recipients typically receive $245 a month in gift cards to discount stores or help in paying rent.
Trustee Joy Schreiber on Tuesday said she had reviewed information on two instances in Illinois where townships dissolved and Township Attorney Brian Flynn asked her to forward the documents to him.