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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

McLean County Agencies Get Quarantine Funding For Homeless

Home Sweet Home Ministries
Facebook/Home Sweet Home Ministries
Home Sweet Home Ministries and Safe Harbor haven't reported any COVID-19 cases.

The recent federal stimulus bill includes funding to help those staying in homeless shelters move into isolation if they contract the coronavirus.

The PATH (Providing Access to Help) Crisis Center in Bloomington is one of the agencies to get assistance -- $49,000 from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

PATH Executive Director Karen Zangerle said the funding will pay for a two-week hotel stay for someone under quarantine.

“We have not had to use that yet, I am so happy we have not had any outbreaks at either of the shelters. Both of them are practicing wonderful mitigation practices to try to keep everybody safe.”

Zangerle addressed the McLean County Board's Executive Committee on Tuesday about how the community is prepared for a potential rise in demand for housing due to the pandemic.

McLean County Board Chairman John McIntrye said the county’s Emergency Management Agency has secured three sites to provide temporary housing for those placed in isolation, including a hotel specifically for first responders. He added the county has not had to use the sites yet. 

Zangerle said social service groups are now preparing for a flood of calls from people on the verge of losing their home or apartment for the first time.

“This pandemic had created a whole new population that have never been reliant on outside help. They have always been independent and in charge of their affairs,” said Zangerle, adding that several social service groups in McLean County are developing a plan for how to direct people to the help they need.

Homeless Population

Zangerle said Bloomington-Normal currently has 175 people staying at the Salvation Army Safe Harbor and Home Sweet Home Ministries homeless shelters.

She said there are 10 people out on the street, who have either been banned as sexual predators, have committed violence or brought drugs into a shelter. She noted there is one woman the shelters have tried to help, but she has refused. Zangerle said they all are on a wait list for permanent housing.

The numbers paint a different picture than some may think about homelessness in Bloomington-Normal, she said.

“I think that people see pictures of L.A. or Seattle or other big cities with homeless problems and they just apply that (and think) that must be the same everywhere,” Zangerle said.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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