CHAMPAIGN — A former bar in Champaign will soon house a daytime drop-in center for the homeless.
C-U at Home, a Champaign not-for-profit organization, has signed a one-year lease on space at 215 S. Neil St., C, where Phoenix was located. The organization has the use of 3,000 square feet on the ground floor, plus the same amount of space in the basement, said its Executive Director Melany Jackson.
The new drop-in center will open sometime next month, after some painting and remodeling is done, she said.
C-U at Home intends to use the new center as a safe haven out of the weather for homeless people currently sheltering in parks, building doorways and other public places.
It is also intended to provide case management services for homeless people, referring them to night shelters and other needed services, along with serving as a place homeless people can receive mail and personal phone messages, which could help in job searches.
"We're hoping this will be a real hub for folks in the daytime," Jackson said.
C-U at Home also plans to move its offices to this building, and will be building some office spaces in what is now mostly a wide-open area.
Jackson's organization was able to lease the space for below-market rent, and will cover the costs with proceeds from its February fund-raiser, One Winter Night, Jackson said.
She plans to ask some of the users of the new drop-in center to help with the work to get it ready, she said.
"We really want this to be their space," she adds.
The community can also help get this center ready by donating furnishings and money for paint and building materials, she said.
Needed are about a half-dozen work desks and office chairs, tables in the 6-8 feet size range, about 50 stackable or folding chairs, and vinyl or leather chairs and couches.
The Phoenix name remains on the building, and Jackson says she's considering keeping it for the drop-in center because the image of a bird rising out of the ashes speaks of hope and new life.
"That kind of goes along with what we're trying to do," she adds.
To donate furnishings for the drop-in center, contact C-U at Home at 819-4569.