Funding Shortage Strains City's Homeless Shelters

"Inner Voice" agency faces $300,000 funding deficit

Nearly one-fifth of the city's homeless population could be out in the cold if one of the largest community-based organizations in Chicago doesn't find relief from a massive funding deficit.

The Inner Voice was founded in 1984 by Rev. Robert Johnson as a soup kitchen and since then has been operating seven shelters around the city.

But a $300,000 deficit may force the agency to cut hundreds of beds.

The challenging economic times and cold temperatures "makes it tough for us to even to conceive of making this type of decision," said Inner Voice president and CEO Brady Harden.

"The greatest issue we face right now is, are we going to be best prepared to be able to support these people after January?" he said.

Hardin said the agency places 700 people into permanent housing and 500 people into permanent jobs every year. About 1,100 to 1,300 homeless sleep in one of the shelters each night.

The funding problems could also mean that 60 to 70 Inner Voice staff members could lose their jobs.

The city of Chicago says it has helped the organization with grant assistance and fundraising advice and is looking at taking over some of the agency's emergency shelters.

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