Erica Smith

Erica Smith headshot
Helping Hands of Springfield

Erica Smith, executive director at Helping Hands Springfield, joins Bea Bonner to discuss the organization's belief that to address homelessness, it has to be tackled on multiple levels. Helping Hands Springfield provides emergency shelter through the state Department of Human Services- and United Way-funded Emergency Shelter and Day Services Program, which provides over 50 beds of short-term emergency shelter with case management support for men.

Springfield Dreams: Visions Of 2021 And Beyond

Dec 17, 2020

A pandemic, a civil rights uprising, economic turmoil, an historic election – this year has brought many hardships. It has made the inequalities and divisions in our society clearer. It’s also been a time for reflection and change.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

On Wednesday, Erica Smith, the executive director of Helping Hands of Springfield, had a tough decision to make.

Washington Street Mission, which offers coffee, laundry and shower facilities, announced it is closing temporarily. St. John’s Breadline decided to hand out bagged lunches, instead of serving meals. Springfield’s Lincoln Library had closed its doors.

The closures follow new rules put in place by Illinois’ governor limiting the size of public gatherings and closing bars and dine-in restaurants. 

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

As the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois continues to rise - as of Tuesday afternoon, 19 people have contracted the disease - social service agencies and hospitals are taking steps to protect the people they serve.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Helping Hands of Springfield announced Thursday the non-profit is ending its effort to open a shelter and medical clinic for the city’s homeless.  

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

The fate of a proposed medical clinic and emergency shelter to serve Springfield’s homeless and low-income residents is in doubt. Mayor Jim Langfelder is now trying to rebuild support for the project after council members publicly criticized him for what they call “lack of leadership.”

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Springfield’s Planning and Zoning Commission will soon consider the location of a new Center for Health and Housing. The center would provide emergency shelter, health care and other services for those experiencing homelessness. But some homeowners near the proposed site say they’re opposed because they’ve been excluded in the early phases of the project.