Helping Hands

Springfield Community Relations Director Juan Huerta gives a tour of the Winter Warming Shelter in October.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Springfield’s emergency winter shelter is closing. The Winter Warming Center - operated by the Salvation Army and funded by the city of Springfield - opened last October to provide shelter for those who don’t have another place to stay during the winter months.

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. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

An exhibit by Springfield artists featuring portraits of people experiencing homelessness wrapped up last week.

The watercolors, photographs and mixed-media portraits were of clients of Helping Hands – a men’s shelter on Washington Street just east of downtown.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

After four hours of contentious debate Tuesday night, the Springfield City Council approved the location of a 24-hour center that would provide emergency shelter and health services to the homeless.

The vote Tuesday night was 8-2, with Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory and Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner voting against the measure.

Supporters of the Center for Health and Housing, to be placed at 521 S. 11th Street, say it will have multiple services under one roof and bring needed medical services to the city’s East Side.

Mary Hansen / NPR

Keith Treadwell says it took some time for him to talk about the trauma experienced. The 46-year-old lives in Springfield and is part of the supportive housing program with Helping Hands.

“I took advantage of the help that they have there and got an apartment with a roommate,” he said. “And my life has been looking up ever since.”

courtesy

Across the country record-breaking freezing temperatures have apparently led to the deaths of at least eight people, likely homeless, stuck out in the cold. Earlier this week a man was found dead in or near a dumpster in St. Louis. 

wuis.org

Springfield's effort to reduce panhandling in the downtown area is facing a legal challenge.   While business owners say a city ordinance has worked, critics say it infringes on free speech rights.
 

Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

  Food pantries and homeless shelters say they're beginning to notice repercussions of a reduction in food stamps that will take effect Fri., Nov. 1. A temporary hike in benefits that kicked as a result of the recession expires this week.

Individuals enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could see their benefits cut by $11 a month. A family of four could see a decrease of $36.