The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority announced Thursday that $45 million has been granted to fund 148 programs around the state through the state’s cannabis tax revenue. One of those programs is a beleaguered Jacksonville homeless shelter that is getting significant financial help.
New Directions was granted to receive $57,785 to be administered in the state’s 2023 calendar year. New Directions Executive Director Sarah Robinson says they are awaiting information about the funding and how they can use it to keep their doors open: “It definitely means that it gives us the opportunity to stay open at this point. As everyone probably knows, we have been really struggling, so it breathes new life into us and allows us to continue to seek other funding options as we move forward. As far as the specifics [on the grant], we are still waiting for the details. We actually applied for 2 grants through that program – two different funding streams; and we need to receive the details on how much money that we are receiving is allocated through which grant we applied for.”
The grants are a part of the Restore, Reinvest, Renew or R3 program created by the equity element of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act signed into law in 2019. The law requires using 25% of all cannabis tax revenue to support communities hurt by economic disinvestment, violence, and the severe and disproportionate damage caused by the war on drugs. The grants in the cycle were awarded to organizations that serve residents of designated R3 zones. Jacksonville’s northeast end is located in one of the designated zones.
Robinson says that it will give the shelter a cushion to seek other revenue streams to continue operations: “We estimate that our monthly cost to operate is about $10,000, so it definitely buys us some time. We are still very hopeful that the City of Jacksonville will be able to offer some assistance, as well. We have meetings scheduled with the Morgan County Commissioners, and we are also reaching out to South Jacksonville to sit down with them and possibly seek funding through them, as well. We will continue seeking funding through various sources and additional grants as we go forward.”
Robinson says that she was elated when she learned the news on Thursday. She says that the news came with good timing as the shelter urgently is seeking revenue streams to remain in operation with the hottest summer months ahead.