McLean County Homeless
Although McLean County is somewhat fortunate when it comes to homeless statistics compared to other parts of the United States, like many communities we have residents who have fallen on hard times. The purpose of this page is to provide information about the homeless population in McLean County, Illinois and to provide information about some of the resources that are available.
There are approximately 175 homeless residents in McLean County (Salvation Army.org) . Some of the causes for homelessness include insufficient income and financial setbacks, physical or mental disability, and domestic violence. People who are destitute have the same basic needs as all humans as well as challenges specific to their own situation.
There are services provided by different organizations for homeless people in the area as well as volunteer opportunities for those who would like to help. These are gathered on this page in an attempt to be of assistance to those needing help and those wanting to help.
Causes of Homelessness
Although some hold the mistaken belief that homeless people just “need to get a job”, in reality, many homeless people and shelter residents are full-time wage earners. A 2007 survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 17.4% of homeless adults in families were employed while 13% of homeless single adults or unaccompanied youth were employed. Also, eleven out of nineteen cities reported an increased in employed homeless people in 2008(National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet).
Another factor affecting this low wage earning group is the lack of housing at Fair Market Rent, in which a wage earners housing costs do not exceed 30 percent of their income. Twelve million Americans spend more than 50% of their income on rent or housing costs. Often the very people who make remarks like, “Get a job” have just simply had better luck in life, and almost always they work at jobs that are less physically demanding and which provide better benefits than those working at minimum wage.
Insufficient Income/Financial Setback
As the economy has had its twists and turns over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the number of people who have been affected by homelessness. Skyrocketing medical costs and loss of insurance due to employer benefits cutbacks unemployment, or having no medical coverage at all are some of the factors that have caused many families to experience financial setbacks which can bring them ever closer to losing their homes.
With 4,081 foreclosures in McLean County since 2003, it is very likely that you may know personally of someone who has come close to experiencing homelessness or has even experienced homelessness for a temporary period. The following chart compiled with information found through McLean County Recorder website shows the number of foreclosures per year for the McLean County area for the years 2003-2011 (Gonzalez).
Decline in Public Assistance
Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (National Coalition for the Homeless). Large increases in homelessness occurred among this population in the 1980s, when opportunities for low income housing began to decline. According to the fact sheet on homelessness provided by the coalition, in 2006, the national average rent for a studio apartment rose above the total income of a person who relies only on SSI income. This group is also often discriminated against when it comes to employment, causing many to live below the poverty level. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html
There is help in McLean County for victims of homelessness due to domestic violence. Neville House and Home Sweet Home Ministries are two organizations which provide resources for people in need. Following is a safety plan for those in danger with contact information for emergency services. Safety Plan.pdf Source- Mid Central Community Action Neville House 24 hour Hotline (309) 827-7070 [http://www.mccainc.org/cdv.htm]
Addiction or Family Problems
Often addiction or problems within a family can lead to homelessness. Preventative counseling can sometimes relieve the stress of the situation before it gets to the point that one becomes homeless. The following agencies offer counseling services in the area.
Center for Youth and Family Solutions (formerly Catholic Charities) Center for Youth and Family Solutions - Morris Site 502 S. Morris Avenue Bloomington, IL 61701 (309) 820-7616 Voice Morris Street Office (800) 345-9049 Voice SASS Program (309) 820-7657 FAX
SASS (Screening Assessment/Support Services) Collaborative Solutions Institute 200 W. Front Street, 400A Bloomington, IL 61701 (309) 828-2860 Voice (309) 827-2637 FAX [http://www.collaborativesolutions.org]
Project Oz 1105 W. Front Street Bloomington, IL 61701 (309) 827-0377 Voice (309) 829-8877 FAX [http://www.projectoz.org]
Youth Initiative Program ABC Counseling and Family Service 705 E. Lincoln, Suite 303 Normal, IL 61761 (309) 451-9495 Voice (309) 451-9404 FAX http://www.abccounseling.org
There are a number of organizations in the Bloomington-Normal which collect donations of food and household staples for distribution to those in need. The following pdf file available through District87.org gives a guide to the services available in our community.
School Lunch Programs School lunch programs have grown locally in recent years to include both breakfast and summer lunch meals for those in need. According to the Bloomington District 87 website summer meals will be provided throughout various locations in Bloomington-Normal.
Bloomington District 87 Schools are offering free breakfast and lunch programs throughout summer 2012. Anyone under 18 can get free breakfast and/or lunch through Bloomington District 87’s summer food service this summer. The cost for adults with children is $2. The following are locations where the meals are provided.
Bloomington Junior High School 901 Colton Ave., Bloomington Breakfast: 8:30 to 9 a.m. Monday-Thursday through July 8 Lunch: None
Boys and Girls Club 1615 W. Illinois St., Bloomington Breakfast: 9 to 9:30 a.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 13, closed July 5 Lunch: 12 to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 13, closed July 5
Center for Hope Ministries 14940 Old Colonial Road, Bloomington Breakfast: None Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 6, closed July 2
Irving Elementary School 602 W. Jackson St., Bloomington Breakfast: 9 to 9:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday, July 27 to Aug. 12 Lunch: 12 to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 6, closed July 5
Second Presbyterian Church 313 N. East St., Bloomington Breakfast: None Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug 6, closed July 5
Sheridan Elementary School 1403 W. Walnut St., Bloomington Breakfast: 9 to 9:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday, July 27 to Aug. 12 Lunch: None.
In addition to the many thrift stores in the area which offer gently used clothing at a very reasonable cost, the following organizations can be used to find clothing at no cost:
Dress for Success provides appropriate apparel to disadvantaged women who are seeking employment. The nearest Dress for Success location is in Peoria. The Bloomington Normal community would benefit from a program like this. However, the organization usually does not allow for new sites within 100 miles of each other. It might be worth a call to the Peoria location to find out if they provide services to women within the 100 mile area. Dress for Success clients receive a business suit once they have scheduled an interview for employment. Once a woman has obtained employment, she is then provided with a professional shopper who helps guide her in choosing one week’s worth of clothing appropriate to her new job. Clients must be referred by specific social service organizations and receive all clothing at no charge. [http://www.dressforsuccess.org/affiliate.aspx?sisid=56&pageid=18]
McFreeCycle [http://groups.freecycle.org/McFreecycle/posts/all] is a nonprofit organization which offers resources in McLean County. It is part of a nationwide grassroots movement to help keep useful items for families out of the landfill by providing a forum where members can post offers of free items or requests for items they need. Some of the categories on the local website include children’s clothing and furniture, adult clothing items, and bicycles: basically anything that people no longer need, can be posted there so people can find it at this website. It helps people at both ends because often the people receiving the goods will pick them up and take them off of your hands.
There are two local organizations which provide shelter for homeless people. Both also offer a number of services to help people find affordable housing, employment, nourishment, and hygiene needs. In addition, PATH is an organization which offers help to people at risk of losing their homes. PATH provides an outreach worker to help people find a place to stay in McLean County, a housing benefits specialists who helps connect those in need to community resources such as social security or public aid. They also have a case manager who provides follow-up for those who have gained permanent housing. Also provided is information for Bloomington Housing Authority whose mission is “to provide low income families decent, safe, sanitary housing and to empower them to build self-sufficiency and pride.”
Bloomington Housing Authority 104 E. Wood Street Bloomington, Illinois 61701 (309) 829-3360
Home Sweet Home Ministries 303 E. Oakland Avenue Billy Shelper Center Bloomington, IL 61701 (309) 828-7356 Voice (309) 827-6415 FAX [http://www.hshministries.org]
Salvation Army Community Center, Bloomington Corps Salvation Army Safe Harbor Shelter and Social Service Center 601 W. Washington Street Bloomington, IL 61701 (309) 829-9476 Voice (309) 829-3680 FAX [http://www.sabloomington.org]
PATH (Providing Access to Help) 201 E. Grove St. Suite 200 Bloomington, IL 61701 (309)827-4005 (800)570-7284 Emergency 24/7 Line [http://pathcrisis.org/]
Other Area Services for Families
Rebuilding your Home
There are many nationwide organizations that help families start or rebuild their home with free or low cost home furnishings. These are gently used donated items that are still of good quality. Here is information about some local branches of these organizations:
Furniture for Families
Recycle Furniture for Families (RFF) offers furniture for families in need on a referral only basis. For a family to receive help they must be a current client of an approved local social service organization, ministry, or church. There are many cooperating organizations throughout the community which provide to RFF to help families refurnish their homes after fires, disasters or financial setbacks. The RFF website lists fifty organizations from which a family can get a referral. [http://rf4f.org/welcome/]
Habitat for Humanity
The Restore http://www.bloomingtonrestore.org/ Restore is a store where donated furniture can be purchased inexpensively. All proceeds from the restore benefit Habitat for Humanity. You can Habitat for Humanity any way you use the restore; whether you donate materials you no longer need or purchase the treasures that can be found, frequenting the restore helps the community. You can find all home needs from an inexpensive television set to furniture for your living room or even literally the kitchen sink. It is not all about home building; it can be about improving your home with quaint touches. You can find a wide selection of different styles in time from the retro 60s pub chair to antique book shelves and old pianos as well as light fixtures doorknobs, and cabinet and drawer handles. The collection changes every day so it’s good to check the restore often. The restore is also a good place to start when doing small home projects or weekend repair jobs. Many people donate leftover materials so you can often find just the right amount of what you need for a small job.
Mid Central Community Action
Mid Central Community Action [http://www.mccainc.org/programs/affordable-housing/foreclosure-intervention/] is an area organization that helps individuals obtain financial security. They offer a foreclosure intervention program to help individuals at risk of losing their homes.
What You Can Do to Help
There are many ways you can help the homeless or people who have suffered financial setbacks in our community. Even if you don't have time in your schedule or money to donate, you can donate items you no longer use to organizations which help families. Many of the organizations have needs which require just a small time commitment such as delivery of furniture, office help, or distribution of flyers for their organizations. The following organizations offer volunteer opportunities locally direct links to the pages that offer information for volunteers are provided.<dl> <dt> Habitat For Humanity Restore</dt><dd>
Gonzalez, Karina. "Foreclosures Down in McLean County." 24 April 2012. Print. 9 July 2012. <http://www.pantagraph.com/business/local/foreclosures-down-in-mclean-county/article_cb06adde-8e6c-11e1-9bea-0019bb2963f4.html>.
"National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet." 15 December 2011. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html. 5 July 2012. <http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html>.
Salvation Army.org. n.d. 7 July 2012. <http://www.salvationarmy.org>.
[http://www.usc.salvationarmy.org/usc/www_usc_bloomington.nsf/vw-text-dynamic-arrays/6411F17886CC82E58625702300583847?openDocument&charset=utf-8] [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/] [http://www.familyhomelessness.org/] [http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewHomelessResources] [http://groups.freecycle.org/McFreecycle/posts/all]