On Thursday, October 20, 2016, the Heart of Illinois United Way Board of Directors voted to restore $25,000 in funding to The Salvation Army to support a day drop-in center for the local homeless population. This restoration of funding is in collaboration with the City of Peoria and Peoria County to provide resources to The Salvation Army to reopen the day drop-in center. During the next year, discussions will continue with various stakeholders to develop the best strategy to increase the percentage of homeless individuals and families moving to permanent housing.
For decades, United Way partner agencies have provided services for the homeless. Due to a realignment of grants by the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), funding for The Salvation Army, who was managing the day drop-in center, ended the summer of 2016. With cold weather approaching, reopening the center is a critical health and human care need in central Illinois.
Total dollars needed to operate the day drop-in center for the next 12 months is $152,720. Funding released by the Heart of Illinois United Way is contingent upon approval of $63,860 by the Peoria City Council on Tuesday, October 25 and approval of an additional $63,860 by the Peoria County Board on Thursday, November 10.
Upon approval of funding, the Heart of Illinois United Way will administer and provide program oversight on behalf of the partners. Opening in November, the day drop-in center will provide basic services including meals, showers, storage, mail service and case management from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days per week.
In July 2016, the Heart of Illinois United Way assumed the administrative responsibilities for the Heart of Illinois Homeless Continuum of Care, a regional planning body coordinating housing and services for homeless families and individuals on behalf of HUD. Nationally, there are more than 450 Continuums of Care. The goal of the Heart of Illinois Homeless Continuum of Care is to end homelessness in Fulton, Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties by ensuring access to permanent, safe, habitable and affordable housing.
The Heart of Illinois Homeless Continuum of Care, as required by HUD, performs an annual Point-in-Time Count on a single night in January to determine the number of homeless persons in the Peoria region. In 2016, the Point-in-Time data for the area recorded 378 homeless individuals, 142 of whom were under the age of 24.
Education, income and health are the building blocks of a safe and stable life. But for many families and individuals in central Illinois, these fundamentals are at times out of reach. With 45 partner agencies, the Heart of Illinois United Way supports critical health and social service programs, helping more than 100,000 people each year throughout central Illinois.