Homeless shelters close for warmer months


The Daily Illini File Photo

Kevin Love asks for spare change on the corner of Sixth and Green Streets on April 28, 2018.

By Cori Lippert, Staff Writer

As seasonal homeless shelters close, community groups are working to provide services to homeless people.

Sheryl Palmer, senior pastor of Faith United Methodist Church and president of the C-U Men’s Shelter board, said the C-U Men’s Shelter is unable to stay open all year due to a lack of funding.

The shelter is run on donations from the community, Palmer said. They opened Nov. 20 and closed March 31.

“We were supposed to close on Sunday, but we weren’t comfortable closing on Easter Sunday. So we stayed open, and our last morning was Monday,” Palmer said.

Following in the footsteps of the men’s shelter, Austin’s Place, a women’s shelter, closed for the season on April 2.

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Austin’s Place is run through First United Methodist Church in downtown Champaign and is completely volunteer-staffed, Kimberly Stanhope, co-leader of Austin’s Place, said.

Austin’s Place was able to open earlier in the year and close later due to a larger amount of volunteers than there were last year. Stanhope said money is not the problem with not running year-around for Austin’s Place; it is the lack of volunteers available to run the shelter.

Even with the closing of overnight shelters, there are still facilities available for homeless people to receive help.

Rob Dalhaus III, executive director of C-U at Home, said the Phoenix Drop-In Center is open Tuesday to Friday from noon-5 p.m. year-round. The center offers internet services, laundry, showers, musical instruments, games and community support, Dalhaus said.

C-U at Home also organizes a street outreach team, which is a group of people trusted by the homeless community. Dalhaus said if the police or hospitals ever have a problem getting a homeless person to trust them, they can call the outreach team, and the members can aid in getting the homeless people to trust the hospital staff or police officers.

Dalhaus said the drop-in center is working with the C-U Men’s Shelter to establish a year-long, overnight shelter.

He said C-U at Home wants to establish the men’s shelter before they move on to a women’s shelter. The shelter would be available for men because of the large number of homeless men in the community.

“Obviously, we feel that they are both very important, but the need right now is for men, so we want to get that up and running,” Dalhaus said.

The C-U Men’s Shelter houses an average of 46 men a night, while Austin’s Place houses an average of four or five women a night, Stanhope and Palmer said.

“I think it is such a huge need in our community; if you just look at the numbers that the men’s shelter we’re serving this year compared to last year, it’s almost double on an average night,” Dalhaus said. “So the need is great, and I’m just glad there are so many people in the community willing to have that discussion.”

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