URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — A non-profit leader in Champaign said she’s seen how hard it is to live on the streets. Now, Claudia Lennhoff, Champaign County Healthcare Consumers’ executive director, is one of many working on a unique solution to battle homelessness in Champaign County.
She hopes to create “Hope Village,” a community of tiny houses for those experiencing homelessness.
Champaign County Healthcare Consumers, Carle Foundation Hospital and the University of Illinois are teaming up to propose the idea to Urbana City Council.
They’re asking for $2 million from the city’s $10 million worth of ARPA money. Lennhoff said it would cover some of the work on the homes, mainly construction costs.
If approved, they would aim to build 30 houses somewhere in Urbana for people who need a permanent place to live.
“Without having homes, even being able to stay in shelters, they really struggle with health issues,” Lennhoff said. “Being out on the streets is really bad for your health. They also struggle with losing prescriptions, eyeglasses getting damaged and broken.”
She said they’ll be working with homeless organizations to create a referral process to figure out who will live in the homes.
They’ll provide classes and programming to help get them back on their feet, eventually leading them to pay their own rent on the homes.
Phillip Rowell II., Carle’s Vice President of clinical and business intelligence, said housing is healthcare and it means more than only having a roof over your head.
“The ability to have a permanent address where reminders around vaccinations or yearly checkups can go. Obviously the physical aspect of having a place to go and return to after you’ve gone out to this world,” he said.
“The weather, the elements, the security. All of those things many of us are able to take for granted go into the fact that we can establish this for other members of our community that have fallen onto hard times,” Rowell added.
He said the potential village may also have a community center, mobile grocery store and a primary care center.
There’s not an exact location yet, but if approved, the 30 homes would be built somewhere in Urbana.
There are 40 groups presenting their potential projects to the City of Urbana throughout the week. Diane Marlin, Urbana’s mayor, said no decisions will be made until the new year.
For a full list of projects and organizations proposing their ideas, visit the City of Urbana website.