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Homeless Shelter Looks to Expand in McDonough County

Marie Blome
Genesis Garden
The PADS shelter can accomidate up to 15 guests a night

The homeless shelter known as PADS has been operating out of Bushnell’s Christian Community Center on Friday nights for a little more than a month. The shelter is already looking for additional host sites.

Melissa Calhoun, president of Genesis Garden, the non-profit group in Macomb that oversees the shelter, said the goal is to find other locations interested in hosting PADS an additional night a week.

“The pads model is designed to take advantage of spaces that aren’t being used at the time the shelter needs to be open but are available," Calhoun said. "That model is generally run through a church.” 

Calhoun said the shelter’s first goal is to be open through the weekend to answer the need in western Illinois for more temporary weekend housing.

She said rural homelessness looks different.

“In the city, it is very common to see someone with a can asking for assistance on the street. That generally is not the face of rural homeless," Calhoun said. “A lot of times, somebody is losing their house or living space because of a change in relationship status. They are no longer welcome to stay there. As they are trying to navigate getting a new spot ... [they're left] without a place to go for a couple days or weeks.”

Credit Marie Blome / Genesis Garden
Genesis Garden
Bushnell’s Christian Community Center is currently hosting PADS on Friday nights

So far, no one has stayed at the shelter in Bushnell. It can accommodate 15 people a night.

“I think the issue that we are facing here is that we are out in Bushnell and we are only right now open one night a week,” Calhoun said.

Guests are offered free transportation to and from the shelter, a bed for the night, toiletry kit to keep, as well as dinner, breakfast, and a brown bag lunch.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.