Pritzker approves housing program for those at-risk of drug overdose

(The Center Square) – A new state law will provide free housing to people at risk of a drug overdose or mental health breakdown.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed House Bill 449, a bill that will provide affordable housing to individuals at risk of a drug overdose or mental health breakdown.

State Sen. Cristina Castro sponsored the bill. It creates the Housing is Recovery Pilot Program. The program provides permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, drug addiction, or mental health problems.

The Housing Pilot Program is intended to help those at risk while providing a safe place to stay. However, there is no requirement for occupants to seek out the help, said state Sen. Dave Syverson.

“There needs to be a requirement for help,” Syverson said. “So an individual who is a drug addict has substance abuse issue is not just given free housing so they can continue their activities.”

Castro said that the people that have elected to be a part of the program are determined to better themselves.

“There is no requirement, but they do have to engage with mental health providers and they have to be willing to be a part of this program,” Castro said.

The mental health help will come from the division of Mental Health of the Department of Human Services and would enable affordable housing through the use of a bridge rental subsidy.

Castro said in a statement that this program should be a top priority for the state.

“Supporting those struggling most in our communities is a top priority,” she said. “Taking a housing-first approach to mental illness and addiction will help ensure that the most vulnerable are treated with dignity and compassion.”

The program goes into effect immediately.

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