Springfield agency prepares shelters for winter

Larina Bias, program manager at Interfaith Hospitality Network, walks through overflow sleeping room at the Network’s Family Shelter in this file photo. Bill Lackey/Staff
Larina Bias, program manager at Interfaith Hospitality Network, walks through overflow sleeping room at the Network’s Family Shelter in this file photo. Bill Lackey/Staff

A Springfield agency that operates emergency shelters for the homeless is preparing its sites to accept more people as temperatures fall, and is planning two separate events to raise funding for its efforts.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network has served the area’s homeless population since 1990, said Elaina Bradley, the agency’s executive director. The agency operates two shelters, one for men and one for families, at 44 W. High St. and 501 W. High St., respectively.

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Both sites typically provide shelter for around 35 individuals throughout the year, but capacity increases to 50 per facility when temperatures drop well below freezing, she said. The agency works closely with the city to determine when capacity should be expanded at both shelters.

The IHN will host two separate events in November to raise funds to keep both shelters operational and to assist with the cost of providing other programs, Bradley said. A lasagna dinner is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at First Lutheran Church, 30 S. Wittenberg Ave. in Springfield. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6 to 12. Children younger than 6 are free.

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Purses for a Purpose will include sales of new and gently used items, and is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at the Hollenbeck Bayley Center, 275 S. Limestone St. in Springfield. Tickets are $25 apiece or 2 for $45.

Tickets for both events can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Bradley said her the agency served about 900 homeless individuals at its shelters in 2017. That figure included 172 children and more than 400 families.

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She said the agency works with individuals who visit the shelters to find possible housing options, and about 82 percent of those who visited the shelters were able to access permanent housing through its programs.

“This is the only emergency shelter that operates in our community,” she said of the two shelters.

Bradley said the majority of families who visit the shelters have at least one individual who works, but said many families have had trouble identifying affordable housing.

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“These are working individuals we’re seeing,” Bradley said. “It’s just that gap between a quality wage and affordable housing.”

She said the agency works under a Housing First model, in which staff members look for options for housing first, and then focus on providing other voluntary services to ensure individuals don’t fall back into situations where they are left without a place to live.

HOW TO GO

Interfaith Hospitality Network Fundraisers

Lasagna Dinner

5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 2

First Lutheran Church, 30 S. Wittenberg Ave., Springfield

Tickets: $8 adults; $4 children ages 6 to 12

Purses for a Purpose

6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30

Hollenbeck Bayley Center, 275 S. Limestone St., Springfield

Tickets: $25 each or 2 for $45

Tickets for both events can be purchased in advance or at the door.