Northwest Herald Editorial | Our view: Pioneer Center’s 24/7 shelter plan big for McHenry County

Posted by Northwest Herald 1:46am

McHenry County is in need of enhanced homeless services, and Pioneer Center for Human Services has taken the lead on creating that space in the form of a 70-bed, 24/7 facility in a 10,000-square-foot space provided by The Chapel in McHenry.

The new facility would be a large improvement from the rotating PADS shelters currently used at several area churches, as it would provide a stable, night-to-night location to assist those in temporary need.

Public meetings are planned for 2 and 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pioneer Center, 4031 Dayton St., McHenry.

If you’re interested in assisting in the process, or simply interested in what the process is, we encourage you to attend.

The Northwest Herald Editorial Board sat down with Pioneer Center leaders Monday to discuss the facility.

Pioneer Center co-CEO Sam Tenuto said the group is hoping to have the facility ready by Oct. 1, which corresponds with when the church volunteer season begins. Pioneer Center currently operates with 95 percent of its budget coming from private contributions and 5 percent from the government.

The group has applied for a $50,000 grant facilitated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help fund the project, which is expected to have between $500,000 and $750,000 in startup costs.

Once it opens, it will allow Pioneer Center to close and sell its Kishwaukee day service center in Woodstock. Because of the space donated by The Chapel, additional costs to move from the current PADS program to a 24/7 center will be limited.

Pioneer Center officials said that in recent years, it has been operating at a $200,000-a-year deficit while spending about $800,000 on homelessness services. The new center will raise those costs to about $1 million a year, meaning the group is looking to host fundraisers to make up that $400,000-a-year gap, co-CEO Frank Samuel said.

The center provides busing services throughout the county, and with the new center, it plans to raise its limit on stays from 30 days to 60 days to help those in need get back on their feet. The limit will be longer for those between ages 18 and 24, who would be able to stay up to 120 days.

This project is an important one for the county, as well as for those who find themselves in need of temporary help. We applaud the work that Pioneer Center has done to put the plans for this facility together, and we encourage community members and businesses to donate to the effort.