times center

Tevin Ford walks by C-U at Home headquarters in Champaign on Monday. Ford said when the center closes, ‘that’s when you become creative and go out and explore the world and come back a different person.’

Listen to this article

CHAMPAIGN — C-U at Home plans to provide emergency winter shelters at two churches for homeless people in the community who can’t be admitted to the agency’s sober shelter in downtown Champaign.

C-U at Home’s new executive director, Melissa Courtwight, said she still hopes to have the two non-sober shelters, one for women and one for men, up and running Dec. 13.

That’s contingent on finalizing arrangements with two churches, one of which may be New Covenant Fellowship at 124 W. White St., C, and for final approvals given on funding assistance, she said.

Champaign County is tentatively covering a third of the $450,000 budget for the two additional shelters that would be operated for four months, mid-December through mid-April.

Last month, the county board supported the use of $150,000 of the county’s federal coronavirus relief grant for this purpose, but the board hasn’t yet given final approval.

The Urbana City Council is set to discuss making a $50,000 contribution to the shelters Monday. And the Champaign City Council is tentatively set to discuss a still-undisclosed level of funding for the shelters at its Dec. 7 meeting, city spokesman Jeff Hamilton said.

New Covenant Fellowship church has previously been a location for an emergency winter shelter for the homeless. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Renee Antrosio, was unavailable to answer questions this week.

Courtwright said about 30-40 men and about 10 women would potentially use the two additional shelters after undergoing an intake process at C-U at Home’s main shelters at 70 E. Washington St., C.

Because C-U at Home’s shelter facilities on Washington Street require sobriety for entry, homeless people who use drugs and/or alcohol, some of whom also have mental-health issues, can no longer stay there.

Courtwright said C-U at Home has commitments for the full $450,000 needed to operate the non-sober shelters, but until final approval is granted by the funding providers, she doesn’t want to identify them.

The money will cover rent paid to the churches, staffing and liability in the event that church facilities are damaged, she said.

C-U at Home is in the process of hiring staff for those shelters, Courtwright said. There would be one manager to go between the two locations and two shelter staff members at each, plus security, she said.

“I think our vision right now is the people we are hiring will have a specialization in substance abuse or mental health,” she said.

Plans for overnight shelter for homeless people who use drugs and/or alcohol don’t extend beyond four months for now, to get through the coldest months of winter, Courtwright said.

If April turns out to be a very cold month, she said, the steering committee C-U at Home is working with could discuss the possibility of remaining open longer.

These shelters will be places to sleep only, Courtwright said. Meals won’t be provided, but the staff will work with local service providers to connect user with other services they need.

“I think the first goal of the shelter is to help those who are unsheltered to make it through the winter,” she said.

Where the users of these shelters are staying now varies, Courtwright said. Some are in transition, staying with family members, and some are on the streets without anywhere to sleep out of the cold, she said.

C-U at Home’s main year-round shelter at 70 E. Washington St. was closed for several months earlier this year due to staffing issues, and reopened in mid-August with new sober-shelter policies. Courtwright said the Washington Street site is now staffed sufficiently for safe operation.

Trending Videos