C-U at Home and Austin’s Place are pleased to announce they intend to combine their services. Both organizations currently offer overnight winter shelter for people experiencing homelessness – C-U at Home serves men, and Austin’s Place serves women. The expanded shelter, which will operate out of C-U at Home’s facility at 70 E. Washington St in Champaign, will provide overnight shelter year-round beginning November 1, 2020.
“We have a shared goal of opening nonstop shelter for both men and women at the C-U at Home site on November 1, 2020. We want the public to understand that we have been working very hard over the past three years to get to this point. This year-round overnight shelter resource for men and women has been absent from our community for too long and now is the time to change that.” said Rob Dalhaus III, Executive Director of CU at Home.
For one final winter, the shelter situation will remain separate, but coordinated. Winter overnight shelter will be available November 1, 2019, through April 15, 2020. Men will be served at C-U at Home, and women will be served at Austin’s Place, inside the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Champaign. “C-U at Home needs to do renovation work in their facility and train staff in order to be able to provide a separate, safe place for women. This is critically important as many women experiencing homelessness are victims of violence,” remarked Kelli Kemper, an Austin’s Place steering committee member who has been with the program since its inception.
This winter, Austin’s Place will mark 13 years serving women at FUMC. “We currently have capacity to serve ten women a night. We want to do more for the women who use Austin’s Place, and we believe that partnering with C-U at Home will provide the best outcome for the women we serve,” said Kemper. Austin’s Place will continue to operate at the FUMC in the winter of 2019-2020, with a goal of merging operations into the C-U at Home site once renovation work is complete.
This partnership has been facilitated by United Way of Champaign County, which has a goal of closing the shelter gap in our community. “United Way has been part of the shelter conversation for many years. We are currently finalizing the partnership agreement between C-U at Home and Austin’s Place. We anticipate a funding request for shelter support will come before our Board of Directors soon, and we encourage the community to step forward and provide support as well,” said Beverley Baker, Director of Community Impact.
“I’m grateful to our community and the partners who have turned this emergency shelter dream into a reality. Ministries and organizations, including the United Way, have stepped forward and provided leadership to drive this endeavor forward. It’s exciting to work alongside the United Way and watch them once again be a key player in a shelter initiative, much like they were for the Emergency Shelter for Families. Over the past three years, countless hours have been invested developing a plan to ensure the most vulnerable, our friends without an address, have shelter when their needs are most dire. With strong partnerships and unparalleled conviction, we are now ready to put this plan into action.” remarked Dalhaus.
When Austin’s Place transitions into C-U at Home, the program for women will retain the name Austin’s Place. In this way, we will continue to honor the legacy of Austin Cloyd, who was tragically killed in the Virginia Tech shooting.