CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — From Friday night until Spring, women without an address in Champaign-Urbana have a place to stay at night.
Austin’s Place Woman’s Shelter on West Church Street officially opens on November 1. It is the earliest it has ever opened it’s doors. They want to provide as much coverage as possible. This is one of the last steps before they never close their doors again.
This is the 13th season for Austin’s Place at First United Methodist Church. But part of their plan is to move in with CU at Home next November 1. Then, they will become the first year-round shelter in Champaign in over a decade.
As well as being open longer for this Winter, Austin’s Place has a paid staff for the first time. Overnight attendees used to be all volunteer. Now, there will be one staff member and one volunteer every night. Leaders at the shelter say it will be worth it.
“Hopefully our volunteers will be able to keep going for five and a half months,” says shelter liaison Ruth Moore. “That’s the big change for us this season. Course it costs more money that way but we’re fundraising as we speak.”
Austin’s Place says they have already received a lot of support from the community. Over $7,000 was raised just last year.
The shelter provided help for 48 different women last season, a new high for them. They say seeing so many people is unfortunate, but they are happy to be a place where these women can get off the streets.
Austin’s Place and CU at Home will operate separately this year. They both open Friday and will open every night until April 15. Their hours are 8:30 p.m to 7:30 a.m.