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CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-based C-U at Home is seeking funding to operate two more shelters to temporarily house homeless people who are drug and alcohol users and no longer permitted to stay at the agency’s sober shelter at 70 E. Washington St.

Up for discussion at the Champaign County Board’s next meeting Thursday is awarding $150,000 to help cover C-U at Home’s projected $400,000 to $450,000 cost of running “low-barrier” emergency shelters, one for men and one for women, for four months starting on Dec. 13, according to County Executive Darlene Kloeppel.

According to C-U at Home’s proposal, the low-barrier shelters would be at still undisclosed locations within walking distance of the 70 E. Washington St. shelter.

C-U at Home’s current year-round shelter for the homeless, which has separate areas for men and women, reopened in August as a sober shelter after a several-month closure due to staffing issues.

The reopening as a sober shelter — which no longer admits drug and alcohol users for overnight stays — prompted the Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless to seek proposals from others to provide year-round low-barrier shelter for the homeless left without a place to sleep.

C-U at Home developed a proposal for four months only, to fill a critical gap during the winter, “with an opportunity to reflect on how to move forward year-round.”

Success would depend on being able to recruit and retain two trained professionals to staff the low-barrier shelters, one trained in alcohol- and substance-abuse counseling and one skilled in protection and security, along with partnerships with local governments and community-based organizations, according to C-U at Home.

The agency said it would also need a strong partnership with Champaign police and secure funding.

Rob Dalhaus, C-U at Home’s community outreach and development director, said Monday he wasn’t ready to discuss more of the details on the low-barrier winter shelter proposal.

He said the agency is working with multiple partners and has secured some funding commitments.

Dalhaus estimated there’s a need for low-barrier shelter in Champaign County for 20 to 25 men and 10 women.

Among the homeless, there are people ready to make changes and move forward and those who aren’t at that point yet, Dalhaus said.

Having those who aren’t ready to make changes in the same shelter with those who are “can cause a lot of issues within the shelter,” he said.

“The humane thing is making sure everybody has a place to stay,” he said.

Under C-U at Home’s proposal, all clients seeking overnight shelter would undergo intake at the main shelter at 70 E. Washington St., and those “just trying to survive” and who tend to suffer from drug, alcohol and mental-health issues would be taken to the low-barrier facilities that would be properly staffed to care for their needs.

Champaign County Board Chairman Kyle Patterson said he has been in discussions with Dalhaus, and the county’s funding for C-U at Home’s low-barrier winter shelter would come from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding.

C-U at Home has also approached the city of Champaign for funding, and city staff members are in discussions with the agency about the amount needed, according to city spokesman Jeff Hamilton.

“If those discussions progress as we expect they will, city staff anticipates bringing the request forward for city council consideration next month,” he said.

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