In a collaborative effort between Sangamon County and Helping Hands of Springfield, a new homeless shelter has officially opened its doors. The partnership provides emergency and transitional shelter, along with a range of day services, all housed in a single facility.
The location of the new shelter is a repurposed, underutilized space within the County's Complex on South Dirksen Parkway. County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter said, "The County has long looked for a community use for the unoccupied space, and we are excited to partner with Helping Hands to put the space to good use, helping to address homelessness in our community.”
Laura Davis, Executive Director of Helping Hands, said, "We have designed a new shelter plan to deliver streamlined services in coordination with the Heartland HOUSED strategic plan to end homelessness in Sangamon County; Our services are housing-focused, designed to move people experiencing homelessness forward into safe, stable, permanent housing as quickly as possible."
The shelter is equipped with beds and food services, including a commercial kitchen, laundry, and medical and mental health services. Helping Hands says the shell is open 24/7/365 and can house 140 individuals, including 30 females.
The project aligns with the goals outlined in the strategic plan on addressing homelessness in Sangamon County, facilitated by the Heartland Continuum of Care. The plan involved collaboration among local governments, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and social service organizations to design a community-wide strategy, Heartland HOUSED, to end homelessness.
Individuals can utilize the shelter by utilizing bus and shuttle services. The Sangamon Mass Transit District has established a route to the facility, and Helping Hands offers shuttles to assist individuals in reaching the shelter. Helping Hands received transport vans as a donation from the Sangamon Board to facilitate transportation. The specified stops are strategically placed to ensure convenient access for those experiencing homelessness, located in areas where unhoused individuals commonly gather. The dedicated shuttle service operates seven days a week, running from 2 pm to 10 pm.
Sangamon County utilized federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, totaling $9 million, for the modification and repurposing of the building to meet Helping Hands specifications.