Homelessness in Quincy

On nights like this when it's bitter cold, it's hard for anyone to get out of the comfort of their own home.

But what if you have no home to go to?

Homelessness in Quincy is a problem year round, but it tends to get worse in the winter when outdoor living conditions are brutal.

This is the Salvation Army's Emergency Shelter which is temporarily located on Quincy University's North Campus. It's empty during the day, but at night it's almost full. Wednesday night, 13 of the 14 available beds were occupied. Heidi Prather is the Shelter Manager. She tells KHQA most of the clients are men, but there are rooms for families. Before anyone can stay at the shelter, they must first go to the Police Department. There a background check is run and police make sure the person is not a sex offender or wanted on outstanding warrants. If they are not able to go to the Salvation Army for one reason or another, other agencies such as Two Rivers Council of Public Officials can make accommodations for the night.

"Right now we're seeing a real problem with people who are looking at winter employment that has dried up. They are looking at where am I going to stay with the cold," says Melissa Holden.

Melissa Holden is the Executive Director of the YWCA in Quincy. That organization doesn't have an emergency shelter, but it helps women and children find homes on a more permanent basis.

"We want to put a stop to that cycle of homelessness because it's traumatic to children who are involved to be uprooted. Maybe they are missing a week of school while they are staying at a friends house," says Holden.

Holden was actually scanning the classifieds looking for places for clients to live. The YWCA is working on a new program to get people out of shelters more quickly and get back on their feet. Holden tells me finding suitable housing is hard to find because there are governmental regulations she has to follow. Those regulations are meant to keep people safe from things like lead paint. And in many older homes in a certain price range, there are still safety issues with the homes.

The Salvation Army will let someone stay in the shelter for 30 days.

But Heidi Prather says the Salvation Army works with their clients to try to find jobs and homes in those 30 days.

The overall goal is to not see the same clients in the emergency shelter month after month.