April 8, 2020
Thanks to additional funding authorized by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), the Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless (CSPH) is helping ensure that families and individuals experiencing homelessness have a safe place to shelter during the COVID-19 emergency. Both seasonal emergency shelters, The Men’s Emergency Shelter and Austin’s Place Women’s Emergency Shelter, will be able to extend emergency shelter availability through at least April 30, the Shelter in Place time period as ordered by Governor Pritzker. In the event the Governor extends the order beyond April 30, CSPH is committed to working collaboratively to continue to address the needs of homeless households in Champaign County.
The COVID-19 Emergency Lodging Fund seeks to bolster local emergency shelter capacity and meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in a setting that allows for the recommended proper social distancing of six feet between individuals. IDHS is releasing this funding to encourage solutions tailored to the unique needs of local communities. It is being made available throughout the state for temporary emergency lodging—or isolation housing—for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m proud of our homeless services system for coming together at such a critical time so that we can utilize our limited resources creatively,” says CSPH Coordinator Thomas Bates. “This funding will allow us to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, while helping us bolster our emergency shelter system and provide space for healing during this crisis.”
The CSPH has helped to organize the homeless system’s response to COVID-19, working with member agencies to adapt to the crisis. Extending the season through at least April 30 and relocating Emergency Shelter programs to structures better able to accommodate guidance from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District provides opportunities for homeless individuals to shelter in place and practice social distancing rather than returning to vulnerable and threatening situations.
These programs, including Austin’s Place, C-U at Home’s Men’s Emergency Shelter, and the RPC’s Emergency Shelter for Families, continue to serve people experiencing homelessness. The Emergency Lodging Fund will allow them to adapt to these requirements and continue to provide high-quality services. To ensure continuity of services for persons experiencing homelessness, IDHS is also increasing funding to existing Emergency and Transitional Housing, Supportive Housing, and Homeless Prevention providers to increase capacity during this crisis.
The Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless is a consortium of more than 25 non-profit and government agencies, faith-based organizations, and businesses committed to ending homelessness in Champaign County, such as Austin’s Place, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, C-U at Home, City of Champaign, City of Urbana, Cunningham Children’s Home, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and United Way.
CSPH welcomes new members, including agencies, faith-based groups, businesses, and interested community members searching for rewarding volunteer opportunities. The Continuum normally meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 3pm at the Vineyard Church in Urbana (1500 N. Lincoln Avenue). Those interested in joining can contact Thomas Bates at 217-328-3313 or email@example.com.