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Advocates for homeless push micro-shelters as one solution

CHAMPAIGN -- Although they have a home until May 1, the future of Safe Haven’s residents remains unsettled.

The self-governing group of homeless people, which started as a tent city and is now staying the winter at Restoration Urban Ministries, is still looking for property where it can build a more permanent community and win the government approval needed to do so.

The News-Gazette/ Abby Harmon of Safe Haven talks at the cookout for neighbors and city council members at the Safe Haven tent city in the backyard of the Catholic Worker house in Champaign on Saturday, July 25, 2009.

Safe Haven community seeks alternative to the elements

CHAMPAIGN --  David Nash knows how dangerous life can be for homeless people living alone on the streets.

While Nash was serving time in state prison for forgery in August 2002, his father was beaten to death by three teenage boys in a grassy area near the Martin Luther King subdivision in Champaign.

The News-Gazette/ David Nash talks about being beaten while living on the streets of Peoria, as he sits on his bed in a room he shares with five other adult men at Restoration Ministries on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2009

Lack of refuge from winter may leave homeless out in cold

CHAMPAIGN -- Some homeless men in Champaign-Urbana might be left out in the cold this winter if organizers are unable to come up with a plan to revamp an overflow shelter that rotated between area churches in past years.

The TIMES Center, a transitional housing facility for homeless men at 70 E. Washington St., Champaign, previously administered the overflow shelter. Men who needed refuge from the winter weather would show up at the center to go through a screening process and were then taken to a church where they stayed the night. But after five years, the center will no longer offer the service this winter.

The News-Gazette/ The Rev. Ervin Williams stands in one of the newly renovated rooms at Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign. The rooms will house members of the Safe Haven tent community until mid-spring

Survey: Homeless population continues to increase

CHAMPAIGN -- Champaign County's homeless population continues to rise, according to two recent surveys, a trend authorities blame at least in part on the economic recession.

The latest survey, in August, counted 594 homeless people in Champaign County, including 358 children, according to the Urbana-Champaign Continuum of Care, a group that oversees homeless services.

That's a 20 percent increase from a similar count last January, which found 495 homeless individuals. Last winter's number, in turn, was 15 percent higher than the 429 counted in the January 2007 survey.

The number of homeless children has also grown. About half the 345 households surveyed this summer had children, up from 38 percent in January, figures show.

The News-Gazette/ Salvation Army Stepping Stone Director Jennifer Valade says her shelter is receiving a new homeless case ‘every day. The biggest issue is employment.´

Landlord´s legal troubles grow

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign landlord facing a criminal charge for allegedly renting an unsafe apartment may lose four apartment buildings and two rental houses after defaulting on a nearly $1.8 million mortgage.

 The landlord said that he´s been singled out by the city because of his race and that he wants to reorganize his business or find a buyer. 

 A federal bankruptcy judge has given Herget Bank of Pekin permission to auction properties that Bernard Ramos owns on West Church Street in Champaign and on South Lynn Street in Urbana. 

 The properties are scheduled to be auctioned Sept. 25. 

The News-Gazette/ Bernard and Eduardo Ramos were fined in May for renting two condemned apartments at 209 W. Green St., C.

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