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Galesburg again funds ‘crucial’ low-barrier warming shelter

Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio

For the third year in a row, the city of Galesburg is partnering with local organizations to provide a winter warming shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

The city council on Monday approved grant of up to $60,000 to the Knox County Housing Authority to go towards operation of this year’s warming shelter, which is also in partnership with the Galesburg Salvation Army.

Meghan Templeton, director of operations for the Salvation Army, said last year’s shelter served 95 people over the course of 3.5 months.

“That doesn’t mean 95 people stayed there every night, but throughout the course of that project, 95 unique people used the shelter. May have been for one night, or a week, or two months,” Templeton told the city council at work session.

She said the low-barrier shelter is crucial because it’s the only option for some.

“Most of the people utilizing the winter warming shelter don’t have access to other shelter options. Almost all of the people served at the winter shelter have either drug use issues or unaddressed mental health concerns, or they may have a background that would stop them from being able to access resources at the Rescue Mission,” Templeton said.

Two years ago, the shelter was at the city-owned Hawthorne Gym on the north side of town. Last year, it was at the housing authority’s Moon Towers.

The proposed location this year is a building at the housing authority’s Woodland Bend complex on the southeast side.

Derek Antoine, executive director of the Knox County Housing Authority, said location and funding are the two biggest challenges for the shelter – and using the housing authority property was the least expensive option.

Bus passes will be provided to get people to the warming shelter.

It will be open daily from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. – and for a longer period of time this year, from November through April.

Templeton said one of the best things that comes out of the shelter is the access to resources, from mental health and recovery to housing and food security.

“The resources are there all the time, but sometimes people who are experiencing homelessness don’t know about them, or don’t know how to get to them, or are just not in a place where they’re able to go out and seek those resources,” Templeton said.

If there are any delays in getting the Woodland Bend property ready in time, Moon Towers is the backup location.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.