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Shelters slated to open soon

December 30, 2018

KANKAKEE — A local organization is planning to open its rotating group of shelters early next month.

One of the last hurdles is getting the Kankakee City Council’s approval for a permit for a homeless shelter on Saturday nights at Immanuel Baptist Church. The council is expected to consider the issue at its Jan. 7 meeting.

If the council doesn’t approve Immanuel Baptist, the other shelters already approved will open as scheduled, leaving only a hole on Saturdays.

With Immanuel, four of the shelters will be in Kankakee. Kankakee First Church of the Nazarene will take two nights, Wednesday and Friday.

The other two shelters will be in Bradley and Bourbonnais.

Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong has pushed the council to pave the way for shelters in town.

Recently, the city’s planning board voted for the shelter at Immanuel. No neighbors expressed opposition at the hearing, but some came out in support, said Dawn Broers, Fortitude’s executive director.

Broers said she was unsure whether the council would approve a conditional use permit for Immanuel.

While the mayor is “definitely supportive,” Broers said she understands some aldermen are concerned the shelter would be too close to Taft Elementary School.

But Broers said the shelter would be open 6:30 p.m. Saturday to 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when school is not in session.

During Saturday night school activities, students would be with their parents, she said.

Once people are at the shelter for the night, they must stay there until the next morning, Broers said. If they leave, they are required to stay away for the rest of the night. Hourly smoke breaks are supervised, she said.

“They are much more supervised at the shelter than when they are not at the shelter,” Broers said.

She said Fortitude needs more shelter volunteers. More trainings for volunteers are scheduled in January.

“We’re always in need of financial support,” Broers said.

Fortitude is trying to fill in a gap with the closure of The Salvation Army’s men’s and women’s shelters in mid-2017. Another longtime shelter is Kankakee’s Gift of God Street Church.

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