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No place to sleep: Homeless families look for options

Alissa Groeninger/CU-CitizenAccess — The number of homeless families and individuals in Champaign County has increased so significantly that the system of emergency shelters and transitional housing cannot come close to keeping up.

As a result, housing advocates and officials estimate that more than 200 individuals and families this winter in Champaign County will have to live in cars, on the street or on friends’ floors.

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CU-CitizenAccessTina Lee and her son, Pierre James. Lee and her family of six had a hard time finding emergency housing after a fire forced the family into homelessness. Read her story

Cherry Orchard residents find new temporary home

By Illinois Public Media News— Health officials are moving forward with a plan to transfer residents living in Rantoul’s Cherry Orchard apartments to new homes.

This is in response to health concerns that have marred the apartment complex for nearly two and a half years. Health inspectors learned in Sep. 2007 that there was something wrong with the Cherry Orchard apartments after discovering sewage seeping from a septic system into nearby farmland. Since then, there have been reports of mold, inadequate heating, and power outages.

The landlords of the property, Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo, promised that by late last year they would address the septic tank issue by moving tenants into housing units that were up to code.

Courtesy of the Champaign Public Health District/ An ariel map of Cherry Orchard, an apartment complex south of Rantoul.

County public health case for Rantoul-area apartment violation set for trial

By Pam G. Dempsey —  A bench trial has been scheduled for Jan. 24 for a Champaign father-son landlord team who have not yet complied with an agreement they made with the Champaign County Public Health Department to vacate five buildings in an apartment complex south of Rantoul.

Bernard Ramos and his father Eduardo agreed in November to empty five of the eight buildings known as Cherry Orchard apartments by Dec. 20.

File photo/A car sits next to an apartment building at Cherry Orchard, an apartment complex south of Rantoul.

Apartment buildings in Rantoul-area complex to close by Dec. 20

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess â€”

A Champaign father-son landlord team has until Dec. 20 to vacate five apartment buildings at the Cherry Orchard apartment complex south of Rantoul under an agreement with the Champaign County Public Health Department.

Bernard Ramos and his father Eduardo agreed to the deadline in an ongoing three-year-old case the health department has brought against the two. 

Both the Ramoses and the health department came to a verbal agreement in November, and that agreement was followed up with a letter from the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office Nov. 29, said Jim Roberts, director of environmental health for the health department.

Bernard Ramos declined comment for this story.

Shelley Smithson/File photo/A car sits next to an apartment building at Cherry Orchard, an apartment complex south of Rantoul. Landlords Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo Ramos, have until Dec. 20 to close five buildings on the complex under an agreement with Champaign County.

Safe Haven residents seek other options

By Dan Petrella/CU CitizenAccess — Behind an annex art studio on the University of Illinois campus sits an 8-foot-by-8-foot wooden structure, lying on its back and filled with dead leaves and dirt. Not long ago, some hoped this small, cabin-like shelter would serve as a model for a new way to house some of the area’s homeless.

Dan Petrella/ Former Safe Haven member Valentino Plaza, 55, digs a hole Friday, Oct. 22, as part of a project to solve a flooding problem at Restoration Urban Ministries, 1213 Parkland Court, Champaign, where he now lives. Plaza was working on the project as part of the work hours required of all residents of Restoration's transitional housing program.

Podcast: Champaign-Urbana lacks sufficient shelter for homeless families

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess — Champaign-Urbana has shelters to house homeless men, women and children, but intact families can have difficulty finding a place that can accommodate them.

Acton Gorton/CU-CitizenAccess/Restoration Urban Ministries is one of the few housing options for homeless families but isn't designed for short-term, emergency housing.

Youth shelter program loses money; refocuses on young adults

Debra Pressey/The News-Gazette/CHAMPAIGN -- Roundhouse, a shelter for homeless and runaway children and young teens in Champaign, will refocus its program to serve young adults because its major federal funding source for younger teens and adolescents isn't being renewed.

A program of the Mental Health Center of Champaign County, Roundhouse has been a temporary shelter for youths ages 11 through 17 while program staff works to reunite these youngsters with their families.

Google Maps/Location of Roundhouse, a shelter for Champaign homeless and runaway children. The program lost $150,000 in federal funding and is refocusing its programs on young adults to keep the doors open.

Low-income housing organization considers its future

By Paolo Cisneros—Inside her home in the quiet 1600 block of W. Healey Street in Champaign, Shawna Abner-Davis balances a full-time job as a social worker with a part-time private practice, various home improvement projects and caring for her 12-year-old daughter Asia.

Robin Scholz/ The News-Gazette /Shawna Abner-Davis, left, and daughter Asia Abner, 12, battle for the remote as they watch TV together at their home in Champaign.

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