Elgin Welcome Centers Part of $30 Million State Funding For Underserved Communities

Elgin Welcome Centers Part of $30 Million State Funding For Underserved Communities

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker came to Elgin on Friday (Oct. 16, 2020) to announce that $30 million in CURES funding has been allocated to welcoming centers across Illinois to support the state’s immigrant and refugee communities facing challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an Illinois Department of Human Services news release, $18 million in funding will go toward housing and utility assistance for families in need, $4.5 million will be used to support employment and job training services and $4 million in funding will be used to provide healthcare education.

State Sen. Cristina Castro was among the speakers at Friday’s event.

The remaining $2 million will go toward a multilingual effort to reach Illinois residents eligible to receive support and $1.5 million will be used for technical assistance.

With the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, state officials gave $20 million worth of direct cash assistance to residents who weren’t eligible for the federal government’s stimulus program.

In addition to $30 million in CURES funding, IDHS received $30 million in the fiscal year 2021 budget for immigrant-related support services including $10 million to connect immigrants with critical services and citizenship support and $20 million for cash assistance for Illinoisans ineligible for the federal pandemic stimulus.

To be eligible for the cash assistance program, applicants must be an Illinois resident and experienced a financial hardship due to the current health crisis.

Priority will be given to residents who are not eligible for any federal stimulus, unemployment insurance, or public benefits due to their immigration status. Illinois residents have until today — Oct. 19, 2020 to apply for cash assistance.

For more information go to www.icirr.org/covidil or text “COVID” to 52886.

Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou said resources would be applied in Elgin, where Gov. JB Pritzker joined local dignitaries, including Jaime D. Garcia, executive director, Centro de Información de Elgin, in promoting the campaign.

“As a premier welcoming center site in Illinois, this is an honor to help to provide services to the Elgin community,” Garcia said. “We are thrilled to welcome Gov. Pritzker today, and work together to provide these essential services to the community.”

Veronica Gloria, executive director of Spanish Community Center, said the need is dire.

“The Illinois Welcoming Centers have built trust with the community over several years of quality service and localized, culturally competent care,” she said.

Immigrant and refugee support services are available at 17 welcoming centers across the state. The Illinois Welcoming Center’s innovative model eliminates systemic barriers that immigrants may have in approaching state services.

Officials say the goal of IWC is to strengthen the overall human service delivery system for immigrants and refugees and build the capacity of immigrant and refugee communities.

“These Welcoming Centers will be an invaluable resource for immigrants in our area who may be having difficulties navigating through the many, sometimes complex, services that our state provides,” said state Sen. Cristina Castro. “This would be true even in a general sense, but during a global health pandemic that has been shown to disproportionately impact communities of color, it could literally mean the difference between life and death.”

State Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) said immigrant communities have been hard hit by the pandemic.

“Organizations like Centro de Información have never been more important in providing a life-line to so many families in the 43rd District and the region,” she said. “The resources provided by the CARES Act are essential to ensuring that Centro can provide housing and utility assistance, employment and training support and health navigation to those who have been so dramatically impacted by this national health crisis.”

For more information about immigrant and refugee support services, visit www.dhs.illinois.gov/welcome, email DHS.BRIS@illinois.gov, or call 312-793-7120.

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