ELGIN, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced $30 million in funding has been allocated to welcoming centers across Illinois to support the state’s most vulnerable communities facing challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of that, $18 million in funding will go towards 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.

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

“Our welcoming centers play a vital role in our pandemic response and so much more. In fact, places like Centro de Información and the Spanish Community Center have been on the ground monitoring inequities in healthcare and alerting my administration to the needs of immigrant communities, especially in this time of need,” said Pritzker. “Attention to marginalized groups continues to anchor my administration’s response to this pandemic. I want to emphasize that COVID-19 testing and treatment is free to all residents of Illinoisans, regardless of insurance or citizenship status.

“With the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, we gave $20 million worth of direct cash assistance to residents who weren’t eligible for the federal government’s stimulus program,” he added. “Undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars in state and local taxes, and Illinois is proud to help more of our residents access the helping hand they deserve in this trying time.”

Pritzker invited those in need to visit https://www.icirr.org/covidil.

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.

“Governor Pritzker’s strong leadership allows IDHS’s Welcoming Center Housing and Utility Assistance Project to provide temporary and emergency housing and utility assistance to immigrants, refugees and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals who have experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship,” said IDHS Secretary Grace Hou. “I am humbled by the care for our immigrant and refugee people we serve.” 

Immigrant and refugee support services are available at seventeen welcoming centers across the state. The Illinois Welcoming Center’s innovative model eliminates systemic barriers that immigrants may have in approaching state services. The goal of IWC’s is to strengthen the overall human service delivery system for immigrants and refugees and build the capacity of immigrant and refugee communities.