Meet HOWIE: “Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”

The Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care are partnering with Phoenix Community Development Services to provide a mobile hygiene unit called HOWIE (“Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”) to support individuals experiencing homelessness in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton counties.

By connecting people to critical resources through the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service and the Phoenix Community Development Services Outreach Program, HOWIE puts individuals experiencing homeless onto the path towards stable housing through vital resources such as emergency shelter, case management, mental health services, workforce readiness support, and more.

“HOWIE does more than provide a shower and clean clothes, it provides a fresh start for those in need. With the ongoing response to COVID-19, the Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care recognized the need for a long-term solution to address the need for easily accessible, safe, and free hygiene for individuals experiencing homelessness in our community,” Jennifer Zammuto, Heart of Illinois United Way President, said.

The self-contained HOWIE unit will be operated by Phoenix Community Development Service’s Street Outreach team. It features two complete bathrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and a wheelchair lift. By assisting unsheltered individuals without access to these types of facilities, HOWIE will provide vital services on location throughout the community.

“Proper hygiene is now more important than ever, especially for those already at high risk for contracting COVID-19 because of their housing situation. Personal hygiene is also critical to dignity and quality of life. HOWIE will contribute substantially to improved physical and mental well-being and better access to employment for those experiencing homelessness in our community,” Christine Kahl, CEO of Phoenix Community Development Services, said.

Funds for this mobile hygiene unit were raised from generous community donations from the Heart of Illinois United Way’s COVID-19 Fund. By collaborating and investing in HOWIE, the Heart of Illinois United Way is providing a long-term, sustainable solution to improve health and wellbeing.

Since 2016, the Home for All Continuum of Care has partnered with the Heart of Illinois United Way to build a sustainable collaboration of more than 50 cross-sector organizations aligning to end homelessness in central Illinois through support of individuals and families seeking permanent, safe, and affordable housing.

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