United we fight for a stable future for everyone in our community.
It is a reality that many members of our community struggle to find or maintain affordable housing for themselves and their families. In Champaign County, a person would have to work 73 hours a week at minimum wage simply to afford the average two-bedroom apartment and the cost of utilities.
In an effort to support members of our community who find themselves homeless, United Way of Champaign County collaborated with local churches, businesses, individuals and community organizations to create the Men’s Winter Shelter.
“It took a whole lot of collaboration, over six months to get where we are now. Providing shelter is more than just opening the doors to a building-there are so many factors involved,” said Beverley Baker, United Way's Director of Community Impact.
The Men’s Winter Shelter serves as an emergency shelter option for homeless men, something that had been missing and needed in Champaign County. The Men’s Winter Shelter is a clear example of how community collaboration can directly identify and address needs in our community.
Homelessness can affect anyone, including entire families and children. Before the Emergency Shelter For Families, Champaign County did not have an emergency housing option where families could remain together. For local families that are in need of temporary and immediate shelter and housing, the Emergency Shelter For Families is available as a long-term program. Through the pilot testing that occurred for the program, it became clear that the need for this form of housing is very high in Champaign County.
“Even though 30 days is a short time, it’s stable. They have a place that they can call theirs for that amount of time,” said Lisa Benson, CCRPC Social Services Director. The permanent model for this program opened in June of 2016 thanks to dedicated and complete community collaboration.
Everyone deserves to have somewhere to call home. Without stable housing, it is difficult to take steps towards a brighter future. As a community, we must recognize that it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone in our community is able to live a happy and healthy life. Both the Emergency Shelter For Families and Men’s Winter Shelter are not simply about shelter but are about providing a path forward, toward success and stability for everyone in our community.