Advocacy for Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House
Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House is owed more than $1.4 million from the State of Illinois for services that the agency has provided over the past six months. The serious delay in payments from the state has been going on now for more than 18 months. In 2009, the hundreds of United Methodist Churches throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference provided support to the Neighborhood House to help it keep its doors opened. Now again, because of the delay in payments from the state, the Neighborhood House is struggling to continue to provide vitally needed services to thousands of children, families, and elderly persons throughout the greater East St. Louis community.
In an effort to address this problem, the Neighborhood House is asking every person or church in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to write a letter to the Governor and ask that he take the necessary steps to assure the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House receives at least part of the payments that are owed to the agency. Please let the Governor know that the Neighborhood House, as one of the oldest and largest faith-based organizations in the greater East St. Louis community, works with some of the poorest and most isolated children and families in the community. Emergency Services, Homeless Youth Services, In Home Health Care Services and Employment Services that Neighborhood House provides are extremely important. The Neighborhood House operates the largest Food Pantry in the entire St. Clair County area serving more than 4,700 people every month. The Neighborhood House employs more than 220 full and part time staff who live and work in the greater East St. Louis community. The ministry of the Neighborhood House plays a vital role in assuring that the basic needs of the children and family in the community are being met and should not be forced to close its doors because the State of Illinois is not paying its bills.
The Neighborhood House has already borrowed more than $600,000 and really has to pay much higher interest payments than the State of Illinois would have to pay if they would borrow the funds to pay agencies like the Neighborhood House. The State of Illinois has already cut millions of dollars in human services programs for the new fiscal year which started July 1st. We believe the state should not try to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. However, the state should also not allow faith based organizations, or any agencies like the Neighborhood House, that are working to support the less fortunate children and families in the Illinois, to close their doors because the state is not paying their bills.
At this point in time the Neighborhood House is literally struggling to survive from month to month. We need the support of everyone throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to write the Governor and ask him to do whatever is needed to allow the Neighborhood House to at least get part of its funding from the state and prevent the agency from having to close its doors.