State Budget Forces More Cutback In Community Elements Homeless Programs
Champaign’s Community Elements will make another round of cutbacks tied to the state budget impasse this month.
The mental health agency is shutting down its Roundhouse shelter for homeless youth, effective next Friday. And effective June 30th, it’s making further cutbacks at the TIMES Center. Sack lunches for the public will end, and the center’s residential program will cut from 45 to 20 the number of men who can stay there as they make the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The program had already reduced the number of men served back in January.
CEO Sheila Ferguson says the cutbacks were forced by the loss of state funding due to the budget impasse, and also due to a reduction in federal funding. Community Elements’ impending merger with Rockford-based Rosecrance also created difficulties in keeping the license for the Roundhouse program.
Despite the cutbacks, Community Elements still operates several other programs to help people deal with mental illness, substance abuse and related problems.
“We really want to say to the community that we’re feeling the loss of these two programs,” said Ferguson. “But we are still here. We’re still providing a full array of services. We reach about ten thousand people … every year. And we intend on continuing those endeavors.”
Ferguson says Community Elements is working with other social service agencies in effort to keep a full range of services available for homeless people in Champaign-Urbana.
For the Roundhouse shelter, the cutback will be eased by the fact that the program only houses one person at the moment.
But bringing back the programs when and if state funding is restored may be difficult. Ferguson says by then, the facilities used by the programs being cut may be converted to house other programs.