This fall, 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 serving individuals experiencing homelessness in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton counties.
Everyone deserves the basic comfort and safety that comes from equal access to showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. Since the start of COVID-19, many individuals experiencing homelessness have had limited access to facilities with running water and basic hygiene supplies while being at a higher risk of developing hygiene related illnesses.
Central Illinois’ new mobile hygiene unit called HOWIE (“Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”) will do more than provide a shower and clean clothes, it will provide a fresh start for those in need. 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 will help move homeless individuals onto a path to stable housing through vital resources such as emergency shelter, case management, mental health services, workforce readiness support, and more.
“With the ongoing response to COVID-19, the Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care recognizes the need for a long-term solution to address the need for easily accessible, safe, and free hygiene for our homeless population. The partnerships we have established to bring HOWIE to central Illinois are the perfect example of how our community was able to collaborate across multiple nonprofit and civic organizations to address a critical need,” Jennifer Zammuto, Heart of Illinois United Way President, said.
Starting late fall, the self-contained winterized HOWIE unit 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.
“Wherever there is need, HOWIE can be our first step in providing our population experiencing homelessness with a new level of care that empowers independence, fuels optimism, and improves health – not just physical health, but also self-esteem and mental health. By partnering with the Heart of Illinois United Way and the Home for All Continuum of Care, our outreach program will be able to provide critical support where it is needed most,” Christine Kahl, Phoenix Community Development Services President and CEO, 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.
Founded in 1921, the Heart of Illinois United Way brings together individuals from business, labor, government, health and human services to address education, financial stability, and health needs that are vital for building safe and stable lives. The Heart of Illinois United Way is committed to ensuring these fundamentals are available for all individuals in our community. For more information, visit hoiunitedway.org or follow us on social media @hoiunitedway.