United Way aims to open emergency shelter soon
CHAMPAIGN — Though the United Way of Champaign County missed the opening Dec. 1 date, officials said they're still hoping to open a new family emergency shelter soon.
"It's still a work in progress," said Beverley Baker, the United Way's director of community impact. "There are so many details that have to come together and fit. We hope all of these details will fall in place very soon."
The shelter is intended to be a one-year pilot program that will provide a safe haven for up to 20 people — including single women, women with children under age 18, and couples with children — for up to two weeks. A location has not been finalized.
A caseworker will assess families' needs and goals upon arrival, and help connect them to local services and resources.
"There is a great need," Baker said. "We have transitional shelters for single women and men and for women and children. But there's not really an emergency shelter."
Baker said the shelter is a grass-roots effort.
"The need had been a topic of conversation at the Council of Service Providers to the Homeless for the past five years. Finally, this past year, they said we need to make this a priority and a goal," she said.
The United Way has been working with local churches on the effort. It's also held drives to collect sheets and lightweight blankets for twin beds, pillows and pillowcases and lightweight towels.
Volunteers will be needed to help with meals and assist the United Way staff on overnight stays.