Thanks to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, Housing Action Illinois subgranted $20,000 to Dove, Inc. These funds support the agency’s work providing interim housing and emergency shelter, short-term rental and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, and increased access to emergency food.
When the governor’s shelter-in-place order took effect in March, Dove, Inc.’s Domestic Violence program saw a slight decrease in calls at first. But several weeks later, demand skyrocketed.
“A victim of domestic violence faces many challenges; however, during these times with COVID-19, they are faced with even more barriers,” Program Director Teri Ducy said in a post on Dove’s Facebook page. “For those who are living at home with their abuser during these times, during the ‘stay at home, stay safe’ order, it’s not a safe option. For them, they are literally staying at home and trying to survive.”
Dove’s shelter continued operating, but to prioritize health and safety, the organization turned away visitors, canceled events, and stopped accepting donated items. The Decatur-based agency also operates a supportive housing program and suspended walk-in intake meetings, although it will still schedule in-person meetings when necessary.
Dove’s Homeward Bound program is the lead entity for the Macon County Continuum of Care and the Coordinated Entry point of contact for Macon County. During the pandemic, Homeward Bound has addressed emergency housing needs by providing motel vouchers and other services. The motel services were put in place following COVID-19-related closures of area shelters, along with adjusted hours for other service providers.
The Macon County Continuum of Care Governing Board convened and developed a plan of action to address needs during the public health crisis. The Coordinated Entry Outreach team sought out individuals who were unsheltered, conducted intakes in the field, temporarily housed people in the motel, and linked them with other services, including permanent housing. In addition, Homeward Bound provided every household with case management and follow-up services during their motel stay.
Homeward Bound also reached out to area landlords to secure potential housing units for rapid rehousing. As a result, many households only stayed in the hotel for a brief time. One such case involved a single mother and her four children. Dove was able to provide her with temporary shelter, case management, and relocation assistance. Although she was unemployed at the time, she sought assistance and has since gained full-time employment. She is now living in her new home. Her story is not an isolated event — the project has assisted with providing permanent housing for twenty-six households, with more opportunities pending.
Thanks to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, Housing Action Illinois has been able to provide two $10,000 subgrants to Dove — one for May and June, and the second for July and August. The funds have supported Dove’s work providing interim housing and emergency shelter, short-term rental and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, and increased access to emergency food during the pandemic.
The first subgrant helped Dove provide 2,101 nights of shelter to thirty-one households. Sixteen households received rental and mortgage assistance, and two families received utility assistance. The agency also served a total of 467 meals. Dove estimates that it will be able to assist 50 people with the second round of funding.
As it did before the pandemic, Dove’s Coordinated Entry Outreach team meets with homeless service providers each week to review housing options and plans for individuals who have been identified through local outreach efforts. They then work to link the individuals with housing options, which may take the form of emergency shelter or permanent housing. Dove assesses each person’s need, and the most vulnerable receive top priority.
The agency’s Domestic Violence program has also continued its 24-hour hotlines during the pandemic. As of June, it is allowing some in-person counseling. It has also resumed limited group services.
Dove is a coalition of religious organizations, volunteers, and advocates. Its mission is to work for justice, equality, and understanding among all people, through its efforts to counter social injustice and help clients meet their needs. It serves clients in Macon, Shelby, DeWitt, Piatt, and Moultrie Counties.