CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – In November, the C-U at Home’s Men’s Shelter and Austin’s Place Women’s Shelter reached their second continuous year of serving people in need of emergency shelter.

A press release says both facilities originally planned to offer year-round services this month. However, a blizzard on Holloween Day last year required opening up one day early for their normal November through April sheltering season.

Then, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this March called for year-round sheltering over six months earlier than planned.

“In the midst of the COVID pandemic, we stepped out on faith and through our partnership with Austin’s Place, were able to make year-round men’s and women’s emergency shelter a reality in C-U for the first time in nearly 20 years,” said Rob Dalhaus III, Executive Director.

Austin’s Place was added to the C-U at Home in June 2020. Additionally, the ministry offers an afternoon drop-in center, 24-hour street outreach, transitional housing, and other essential services to the homeless community.

Kimberly Stanhope helped guide the transition as a Board Member of Austin’s Place. She now serves on the C-U at Home Board of Directors.

The release says Stanhope watched the shelter grow from a grassroots mission started by the First United Methodist Church 13 years ago to “an essential community service that has benefited hundreds of vulnerable women over those years.”

“It is with the greatest gratitude that we have partnered with CU at Home,” Stanhope says.

“Through this partnership we have not only been able to provide shelter through a pandemic, but we also were able to immediately turn the tragedy of COVID into something amazing — year-round shelter for both men and women.

“It has been the blessing of these COVID times.”

In their first full year of ongoing shelter operations, the men’s shelter and Austin’s Place have housed over 600 people in need of shelter.

Renovations have recently started at the main C-U at Home location, 70 E. Washington Street in Champaign, which will provide a permanent home for Austin’s Place.

C-U at Home is a non-profit ministry. Founded in 2011, they exist to engage and mobilize the community to house and support the most vulnerable homeless on their journey of healing and restoration.

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