CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – For over 20 years, there has been no year-round homeless shelter in Champaign-Urbana. That’s according to Rob Dalhaus, the director of development and community outreach for C-U at home.

In late 2019, C-U at home and Austin’s place decided to open permanent overnight shelters for men and women. The plan was to make it happen in late 2020, but they started welcoming people months earlier.

“All of a sudden COVID happens, and we got with community partners, we talked with our staff, we talked with a lot of different people, and said we can’t close this resource. We have to keep it open,” Dalhaus, said.

Dalhaus said they started to have extreme staffing issues, and couldn’t upgrade anything for the people they were serving.

So, in May 2021, they closed their doors again. Dalhaus said he hoped to only be closed for a few weeks, but things took longer than expected.

Charles Evans is a crew chief for the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. He said in the time the shelter was closed, he could see a difference in the people they were serving.

“What we saw were people living in more dire straits, he said. “What we noticed, regretfully, is that some of our guests had to sleep someplace, so they’re sleeping someplace around, so they look worse. This has not been good for their health.”

Dalhaus said it’s past due to open the shelter back up and help.

“There’s a chance for somebody in need to come in and have a warm, dry, safer place to stay. For me, being able to sleep at night knowing ‘hey there is this place,’ that’s what helps me,” Dalhaus said.

C-U at home opens again on August 16th. That’s both the men’s and women’s overnight shelters. The Pheonix Daytime drop-in center will open to regular hours on August 9th.

You can learn more information, here.