Search is on for another PADS shelter

By Kelli E. Christiansen

Public Action to Deliver Shelter might be running out of time, while volunteers search for ways to help.

PADS‘ lease at 311 N. Fourth St. ends in April. Unless volunteers find a new location by next fall to rent or buy, the shelter will close down or be forced to find other methods to provide shelter to the homeless and needy.

“We are, ourselves, going to be homeless,” said PADS Coordinator Kathy Clark.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” said PADS Administrator Gayla Warford. “We’re looking for a place to rent, buy—whatever. We very much need a building.”

PADS does not have the money to buy a house for a new shelter, Warford said.

Although PADS received about $4,000 of a $29,000 grant donated by the Nov. 21 Federal Emergency Management Agency to DeKalb County, the money is only “enough to cover operating expenses,” Clark said. “We would need a huge fundraising effort to buy a house.”

PADS has outgrown the parsonage now used as the shelter. The maximum capacity is 16 guests, but the average number of guests is 23 or more. “We had 32 people last Monday night (Jan. 15),” Warford said.

Both the DeKalb and Sycamore City Councils have been searching for ways to help the needy. “The council supports the program,” said DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow. “But we don’t have any space right now for them.”

The city council had been looking into a vacant house on First Street to purchase as transitional housing, but “it didn’t pan out,” Sparrow said.

“I’m sure PADS needs help,” he said. “But we’ve got no space as a city.”

PADS also enlisted the help of the Sycamore City Council in the search. “We’re trying to find a place,” said Sycamore Mayor Red Johnson. “We’ve got to find the right place for them. There was one place (in Sycamore), but it can’t be converted.”

Buildings intended for use as transitional housing or shelters must pass Federal Housing Authority rules and regulations to function. Buildings often must be converted for such use.

Meanwhile, PADS continues to operate from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week. More than 300 volunteers run the shelter, providing guests with hot dinners, breakfasts and sack lunches. The majority of PADS workers are volunteers.

NIU contributes the largest number of volunteers, Warford said. “If it wasn’t for NIU, I don’t know what we’d do,” she said. “The people from NIU are the finest.”

Although hundreds of volunteers help the shelter, PADS is in need of extra help, Warford said. People wishing to volunteer may attend volunteer training sessions. The sessions are scheduled for today at 7 p.m., Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. For more information, call the PADS Helpline at 748-6437.