Homeless providers share efforts with Community Coalition | News

Homeless providers share efforts with Community Coalition | News

CHAMPAIGN — Organizations that provide support to homeless individuals in Champaign County are coming together to make their resources more efficient and easier to access.

Representatives from the city of Champaign, Strides low-barrier shelter, Cunningham Township, Regional Planning Commission, United Way and Hope Village briefed attendees on their plans at the Community Coalition meeting Wednesday.

First, a continuum of service providers shares information, such as which people are staying at which shelter, through a coordinated intake system to ensure that as many people as possible are served.

“Also, this is a time when the client’s needs need to be heard and the experience of homelessness really needs to be shared so that we can begin to understand the individual’s needs and the services needed for support and opportunities for permanent housing,” said Jessica McCann of the RPC.

The RPC’s annual point-in-time survey of homelessness in the county helps other organizations understand how many people need support.

Jazmine Hernandez, assistant administrator for the City of Champaign Township, spoke on behalf of the Strides shelter.

Strides, the only low-barrier shelter in the county, with 64 total beds, cannot accommodate everyone, she said.

“We have a waiting list of 30 to 40 people on average every night,” Hernandez said.

When the shelter operates as a common area where general services such as laundry and showers are provided, it can serve more people during the day.

Martel Miller, a case manager in Cunningham Township, said he believes the number of homeless people in the county is well above the RPC’s current estimate of 279.

Her interactions with homeless people often include building relationships and offering things like sleeping bags and tents to those who can’t get into shelters.

“They say they don’t like tents in our community, but there has to be shelter somewhere,” Miller said.

Adani Sanchez, consultant for Champaign County Healthcare Consumers, shared details about the Hope Village project, which is scheduled to open in 2026.

Hope Village will be a small community of tiny homes for people in need of stable housing.

Coalition participants shared concerns about the recent Supreme Court decision allowing criminal penalties for homeless individuals, but representatives of community organizations said it has not yet become a concern because state and local funding supports their mission.