By Devese “Dee” Ursery
MADISON COUNTY — Madison County opened warming centers in lieu of the single digit temperatures that passed through the region last week.
Warming Centers agree to open their doors for individuals to seek shelter from excessive cold conditions during listed operational hours. Excessive cold indicators are: wind chill is expected to be -15 degrees or less or the stagnant air temperature is 15 degrees.
The homeless or the unhoused community are the most vulnerable during harsh weather due to their exposure to the conditions. Each winter the county’s homeless program puts provisions in play to assist the unhoused, according to David Kerr, contact homeless coordinator for Madison County.
Kerr said Madison County Continuum of Care, which is a consortium of non-profits and citizens that determine how to carry out the homeless program, are working with organizations to sponsor warming centers throughout Madison County.
“We have modified our referral line to instruct people in distress to either go to a warming center, contact a shelter or contact their local police department,” Kerr said.
The Madison County Partnership to End Homelessness announces the availability of grants to end homelessness. The CoC is accepting proposals for Permanent Housing, Transitional Housing, Joint Transitional/Rapid Rehousing, Supportive Services-Coordinated Entry and Homeless Management Information Systems, per the Madison County website.
Projects with an emphasis on serving survivors of domestic violence are also a priority. The CoC encourages organizations that have not previously received Continuum of Care Program Funding to apply for funds under this solicitation.
Kerr said that not only are the unhoused affected, but also those who may lose heat or power. He said the CoC works with local municipalities and law enforcement to provide emergency direct assistance where it is needed.
“The county also uses funds to put homeless individuals, who normally are outside at night, into hotels on a short-term basis when there is no shelter space available,” Kerr said. “We will use all available means to mitigate the hardships posed by the cold snap.”
There are two warming centers in Collinsville and Glen Carbon with one open in Troy. The Tri-Township Public Library will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Glen Carbon Centennial Library will be opened as a warming center from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. On Saturdays it will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1-5 p.m on Sundays. The Glen Carbon Police Department will allow the unhoused to come into the station, but hours will vary depending on need.
The Collinsville Township Senior Citizen Center and the Collinsville Public Library, both are opened as warming centers for the unhoused community. The Senior Center will allow people to come in and get warm from Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Collinsville Public Library accommodated the unhoused on Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Library was open on Sundays as well 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.
To contact Madison County’s referral line call (618) 296-5300 for more information or visit the county’s Emergency Management Agency web page at madisoncountyil.gov/departments/emergency_management/seasonal_awareness, for the full list of warming centers throughout the county.