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Dream Center Doubles Emergency Homeless Shelter's Space

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Dream Center

The Dream Center's newly expanded $1.2 million emergency homeless shelter is opening today.

The new emergency shelter takes up two floors of the Dream Center's 7-floor downtown building. That's double the previous size.

"It feels a lot more like a hotel or an actual home, rather than an emergency shelter. And that's because of our core values. Everything we do, we try to treat people with dignity, compassion, and purpose," said Dream Center Development Director Brian Ulhenhopp.

He said demand for emergency shelter space has grown.

"Our shelter was really the only shelter set up for moms with kids. We saw our numbers increase over the last two years. They nearly tripled, from 40 to 70 a night to 70 to 110 a night," he said. 

Uhlenhopp said children are the face of homelessness in Peoria. The average age of people taken in by the emergency shelter is 9. 

The shelter's dining space is now four times larger.

Ulhenhopp said the next phase of renovations will convert two racquetball courts into a $700,000 teaching kitchen. A $100,000 down payment has already been made on that project. Ulhenhopp said the Dream Center is counting on the community to help them raise the rest. 

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.