Pritzker touts food, housing programs in FY24 state budget during Peoria stop
Programs addressing homelessness and food deserts are among those in the upcoming state budget touted by the governor and lawmakers during a stop in Peoria Monday.
Gov. JB Pritzker says the new Illinois Grocery Initiative will increase food access for underserved areas.
He says the program will incentivize the creation of new independent grocery stores or cooperatives in identified food deserts in both rural and urban areas. But he said it'll have other facets, too.
"The grocery initiative also provides resources toward purchasing fresh, nutritious food, specifically from Illinois growers," he said. "Families living in food deserts and those who live with food insecurity will finally get some relief."
This year's state budget called for $20 million for the statewide program. Ways to address the food deserts on Peoria's South Side and East Bluff have been discussed since the closure of two Kroger stores in 2018.
The new state budget also includes more than 350 million dollars to address homelessness in Illinois. The multi-year Home Illinois plan calls for more permanent supporting housing, medical respite, and street outreach.
Christine Haley is the state's homelessness chief.
"When homelessness is characterized as a personal failing, we misdiagnose the problem. When we misdiagnose the problem, we struggle to find the solutions to work," she said. "Homelessness is a crisis of the collective will to address it."
The plan ultimately seeks to bring homelessness down to a state of functional zero, where enough resources exist to effectively eliminate chronic homelessness.