Southern Illinois emergency assistance programs at risk of closing due to state budget woes

"There is a point at which we won’t be able to continue to do what we do," said Bethany Village Executive Director Wally King.

It’s a blunt, but honest admission. King said the state owes the Anna, Illinois, nonprofit close to $30,000, which is about a fifth of its total budget.

"I know we operate on a deficit every month, and the reason we’re operating on a deficit every month is that we don’t have that money," he said.

Bethany Village provides room and board for about 60 women and children a year. It also feeds about 500 people a month through its food pantry. With no state budget, King said it means having to pull from other resources that often aren’t there.

"I just went through a period prior to the holiday season where I had to buy food every month to the tune of $300 or $400," King told Local 6’s Robert Bradfield

Bethany Village isn’t the only emergency assistance program facing an uncertain financial future. Twenty miles away in Carbondale, Illinois, the state has withheld more than $100,000 from Good Samaritan Ministries, or about a fifth of its operating budget.

The center cut its assistance program, which helped with people’s electric bills and rent. Assistant Director Patti Mullins told us earlier this fall it’s keeping her from helping the most vulnerable. "With the state budget impasse, this is the time of year we see those funds, and not having them, we’re at a real shortfall," Mullins said.

It’s a sentiment shared by King, who said this time of year is when people need help the most. "You can’t ask your staff to go completely unpaid, and people have to eat, and the heat has to be on so the kids don’t freeze to death," King said. 

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