Community member concerned about funding for homeless

By Amanda Liberatore

During the public commentary section of Tuesday’s Champaign City Council meeting, homeless funding was brought to the Council by a member of the community.

Sheila Ferguson, chief executive officer of the Champaign County Mental Health Center, talked to the Council about issues relating to housing for the homeless citizens of the community.

“With everything including health insurance becoming more expensive, we are concerned about where things will be for the homeless in the future,” Ferguson said. “The need for more funding is growing and over the last three months, the need has been drastic.”

Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart concurred with Ferguson’s statements.

“It will be very difficult in the winter months coming, I’m sure,” he said.

Ferguson gave the government two different propositions regarding this matter that she believes will help work to correct the problem.

She proposed the re-evaluation of Community Development Block Grant funds and public safety funding. The opportunity to renew grants ends on Dec. 1, and she plans on using volunteers.

“I am asking the Council for the opportunity to look at possibilities to help out this situation,” she said. “The homelessness is becoming a real problem in our community.”

This brought Ferguson to her next proposition. She suggested that the Council hold a study session to further discuss the matter and to take a closer look at the issues regarding shelters in the community.

“This would be a great way for us to join forces in order to address these needs,” Ferguson said.

However, council member at-large Deborah Feinen brought up a valid point.

“If we have a study session about this, then we should include the topics of all social services that have all had funding problems,” she said. “They are probably having the same issues, and it would be good to include them all in the discussion.”

Ferguson’s issue was taken into account, and a petition for a study session was considered.