CARBONDALE — For the recently homeless, equipping a new apartment with basic household items can prove challenging.
Disadvantaged families often have nothing left to spend after coming up with money for rent and deposits, according to Camille Dorris, executive director of the Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless, an organization that provides affordable housing and supportive services to the homeless and near-homeless.
“There have been times when I have walked into somebody’s apartment, and they may have already been there for a couple of weeks in the dead of winter, but they have no blanket, they have no sheets, may not have a shower curtain up — they’ve just not been able to afford to be able to bring these items into their home and purchase these items,” Dorris said.
Agents at Realty Central, a real estate agency in Carbondale, recently donated 18 "welcome home" baskets that will be provided to SICH clients moving into new homes or apartments. The baskets contain basic household items such as towels, utensils, shower curtains, paper products, mops and brooms.
“They usually come with the clothes on their back and not too much more,” Dorris said. “So helping them with things like cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, towels, those kinds of things, it really is a boost. It helps them out so much, financially as well as kind of in terms of sending them in the right direction.”
SICH provides affordable transitional and permanent supportive housing all over the Southern Illinois region.
“The whole goal is to try to help them remain permanently housed, not go back into a cycle of going into a shelter or losing their place,” Dorris said.
The agency works with low-income individuals on setting goals to increase their income and self-sufficiency.
“We help them put résumés together, we help them with their interviewing skills, help them with finding a more permanent, stable job. We might help them work on reducing some of their debt while they’re in our program,” Dorris said.
Dorris said most people imagine that homeless people are single individuals, but that’s not the reality in Southern Illinois.
“A lot of that comes from the things we see on TV, stories that we hear. But in Southern Illinois, the majority of people that are homeless are families. They are single women with children, they are families struggling because maybe one person has lost income, they are domestic violence victims,” Dorris said. “These are families and they’re people that are in our community, and they’re trying to be more productive citizens by getting better jobs and becoming more self-sufficient.”
Those who wish to donate household items to families in need can call SICH’s Marion office at 618-993-0094.