STATE FUNDING? Haven House braces for cuts
Ben Smith -
Haven House Resident Speaks out about housing
for the homeless in Massac County.
When it comes to the yearly state budget, Haven House always seems to be a
target when it comes to cuts, but Haven House resident, Ben Smith said
budget cuts are a hindrance to miracles.
He says that because he feels he is one of those miracles that Haven House
The cuts Smith refers to is about a $12.7 million state budget cut for
supportive housing, according to Supportive Housing Providers Association,
which would affect about 10,300 individuals and 9200 units of housing.
Smith explained he came from what he would describe as a normal, happy
childhood. There was alcoholism in the family genes, so he said he was
probably predisposed to that. He said around the age of 11 or 12 he began
“drinking and drugging,” as a mixture of experimentation and rebellion.
“As a youth at Massac, I got into a lot of trouble,” said Smith, saying that
he was an alcoholic and an addict. He admits because of his poor choices,
when he was in his early 20s, he was in and out of prisons and rehabs. “It
was a cycle I couldn’t get out of,” said Smith.When Haven House Apartments were being built, Smith was referred to Light
the Way, Inc. He says he almost did not apply for housing because he thought
he surely would not be approved. “Not with my background,” he said.
But he was accepted. “It’s been amazing,” he said, pointing out that the
staff assisted him in getting into rehabilitation programs that mattered and
made phone calls regarding jobs. Before Haven House came along, Smith
describes how he felt lost and hopeless.
One apartment led Smith down a path to gainful employment, rehabilitation
and the realization that he knows now it was his poor decisions that led him
down the wrong path. He says while he was on that wrong path, he was looking
for a helping hand, “There were not many extended,” he said.
Smith said the management at the facility follow the Golden Rule and help
the clients who are living there and teach residents to do the same and to
help each other out.
Phyliss Thistlewood, director for Haven House, says that since Smith has
been residing at Haven House, he has become a “go to,” person for many
people. Smith admits he has people coming to him for advice.
From information Thistlewood has regarding the upcoming Illinois state
budget, she said it looks as though supportive housing may take a 2.5
percent cut, but the following year, if funding is cut completely, there
would be no services provided.
In an effort to keep Springfield legislators from implementingfurther cuts,
a rally will be held at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield, on
Wednesday, April 22. Smith and his wife have already made arrangements to be
at the rally.
According to Thistlewood, the residents will have their annual meeting on
Tuesday, April 21, the day prior. She also said a meeting has been scheduled
with Illinois Senator Gary Forby on Monday, April 20. She said they are
still trying to arrange a meeting with Illinois Rep. Brandon Phelps and with
a staff member for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Smith, when thinking about what would happen if the budget is cut says,
“They shouldn’t think so much about the money it’s going to save. They
should think about the damage that will be done. It’s horrible to think that
many people, lives that will be lost.”