Shelter sets up overflow to meet need

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) -- The C-U Men's Emergency Shelter is more packed than ever.     

Just this month they were able to open an overflow center so more people can have a warm bed to sleep in. But it's not just the cold that's bringing people inside the shelter. 

There just aren't a lot of places for people to go.

Doug Beckett, shelter director, says, "We've more than doubled. We started out with 123. In the last full week we had 334."

People are piling in the doors at the emergency shelter.

"Last year we were averaging 22 people a night, this year we're averaging 37. And the numbers have progressively gone up. For the month of January we're averaging 47 a night."     

But they ran into a problem. There were more people in need than there were beds for them to sleep in.
They were on the verge of having to turn people away. That's when the Salvation Army decided to help them out. 

"There are 16 beds here. We're using this as an overflow for the main shelter." 

The Salvation Army set up a room with extra beds at their church. The men check in at the C-U Emergency shelter and then a bus shuttles them over to the church.

For some, these beds are more than a temporary fix. 

"Because they've had a place to sleep at night they've been able to switch their function from survival to the long range plan of getting stability in their housing." 

Beckett says he's seen at least 10 people, who are regulars at the shelter, find a permanent home. 

"They know they're going to be able to come in, get a good night sleep, be safe, get out of the elements and get up to do something positive the next day."

The emergency shelter is open 7 days a week. They've been full every single night since Christmas.

The director says money is really tight. It costs $420 a day to keep the emergency shelter open and $47 a day for the overflow center. It runs mainly on people's donations. If you'd like to help, click this link. 


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