Homeward Bound

Please call numbers below for issues of homelessness:

Business Phone:  217.362.7700
24-Hour Outreach Number:  217.706.6614
After Hours Number:  217.619.5742

Office Hours:  8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

email:  outreach@doveinc.org

Location:  788 E. Clay, Decatur, IL  62522



Please see the 2024 Point-in-Time Results

as presented at the Macon County Continuum of Care Community Breakfast

March 28, 2024



Providing services to, providing housing for and initiating programs to improve the quality of life for our area homeless families and individuals.

What is Homeward Bound?

Homeward Bound is the Centralized Intake location for the Macon County Continuum of Care (CoC) and through a collaboration of its other local agencies, sits on the Governing Board for the Macon County Continuum of Care, and is funded through grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and other local funding sources.

Homeward Bound provides supportive housing, case management, supportive services and necessary referrals to homeless persons living in the Decatur/Macon County area. It was established in 1995 from the work of the newly formed Homeless Council Continuum of Care. Now, more than 20 years later, the Homeward Bound program continues to meet its original concept, has added components, and is diligently working to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families.

Who are the Governing Board Members?

*  City of Decatur (COD)

*  Community Investment Corporation of Decatur (CICD)

*  Decatur Housing Authority (DHA)

*  Dove, Inc. – Collaborative Applicant

* Empowerment Opportunity Center (EOC)

*  Heritage Behavioral Health Center (HBHC)

  • Baby TALK
  • Child 1st/HEALS
  • Crossing Healthcare
  • Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH)
  • Decatur Public Library (DPL)
  • Decatur Public Schools, District 61 (DPS 61)
  • Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • God's Shelter of Love (GSOL)
  • Good Samaritan Inn (GSI)
  • Homeless/Formerly Homeless Representative
  • Land of Lincoln Legal Aid
  • Macon County Mental Health Board (MCMHB)
  • Northeast Community Fund (NECF)
  • The Salvation Army (TSA)
  • St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Water Street Mission (WSM)
  • Webster Cantrell Youth Advocacy (WCYA)
  • Workforce Investment Solutions (WIS)

*  Members since 1995


What is the HUD Homeless Definition?

  1. Literally homeless
  2. Imminent risk of homelessness
  3. Homeless under other Federal law*
  4. Fleeing/attempting to flee domestic violence
  1. Literally Homeless
    1. Streets, parks, cars, stations, abandoned buildings, etc.
    2. Shelters, Transitional Housing, vouchers
    3. Exiting from institution, AND stayed there 90 days AND came from shelter immediately before institutionalization
  2. At Imminent Risk
    1. Being evicted within 14 days (was 7), AND
    2. No new home is identified; AND
    3. Lacks resources and support networks
  3. Other Federal Law (All New) 2012 (* does not apply to Macon County CoC)
    1. Family with children, or youth only 
    2. Homeless under other Federal law, AND
    3. Has not leased/owned home in 60 days, AND
    4. Has moved twice in 60 days, AND
    5. Has specific needs, or at least 2 barriers

Special Needs: chronic disability, chronic physical or mental health, substance addiction, history of DV or childhood abuse/neglect, or a child/youth with disability

Barriers: No HS/GED, illiteracy, low English proficiency, criminal history/detention, unstable employment history

  1. Fleeing Domestic Violence
    1. Fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence (including dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or other dangerous violence), AND
    2. No new home is identified; AND
    3. Lacks resources and support networks

What is the national average age of a homeless individual?

The national average age of a homeless individual is 11 years old.

Who are the Homeless in our area?

Many individuals and families in our area are homeless and many more are at risk to become homeless. HUD requires all funding recipients to conduct a biennial, 24-hour period survey of homeless persons in the areas served. Macon County conducts this survey annually.

What is the definition of Chronically Homeless?

(Households with at least 1 CH adult were added to the definition in 2011)

Homeless for:

  1. 12 consecutive months
  2. Or 4 times in past 3 years with each episode of homelessness totaling at least 12 months
  3. The New “4 in 3” Rule Each episode of homelessness must have been at least 15 days long

What programs are there to help?

Case Management & Supportive Services

All Homeless persons are eligible for these services:

  • Intensive case management
  • Linkage to job training and employment
  • GED classes
  • Health services
  • Addiction services
  • Mental health services
  • Budget counseling
  • Parenting classes
  • Life Skills classes


Coordinated Entry

Coordinated Entry (CE) is an approach to coordination and management of a Continuum of Care’s housing crisis response system. CE enables CoC providers and homeless assistance staff to make consistent decisions from available information to connect people efficiently and effectively in crisis to interventions that will rapidly end their homelessness. The CoC utilizes the Continuum Homeless Action Team to assist in rapid connection to services and housing within the CoC.

Guiding Principles

The CoC system requires that CE abide by the following guiding principles:

  1. Prioritization of the most vulnerable. Our resources are first directed to persons and families who are most vulnerable. Less vulnerable persons and families are assisted as resources allow.
  2. Nondiscrimination. CE is available to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, familial status, disability, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identify, or marital status.
  3. Fair and equal access. All people in different populations and subpopulations in the CoC’s geographic area, including people experiencing chronic homelessness, veterans, families with children, youth, and survivors of domestic violence, have fair and equal access to the CE process.
  4. Promote participant-centered practices. Every homeless person is treated with dignity, prevented from experiencing further trauma; offered at least minimal assistance, and participates in their own housing plan. The CoC provides ongoing opportunities for participant participation in the development, oversight, and evaluation of CE. Participants are offered choice whenever possible.
  5. Low barriers. We identify system practices and individual project eligibility criteria which may contribute to excluding participants from services, and work to eliminate those barriers. As a “low barrier” CoC, we engage and enroll eligible persons in homeless assistance projects regardless of perceived barriers such as lack of income, lack of sobriety, presence of criminal records, or historical non-compliance with program requirements.
  6. Transparency. We make thoughtful decisions and communicate directives openly and clearly.
  7. Continuous quality improvement efforts. We continually strive for effectiveness and efficiency and make changes to improve the quality of our work.
  8. Collaboration. We practice and promote inclusive planning and decision-making which involves all affected parties.
  9. Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). The CoC and each Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) recipient operating within the CoC’s geographic area ensure that the CE process allows for coordinated screening, assessment, and referrals for ESG projects consistent with the written standards for administering ESG assistance.
  10. Diversity. We respect cultural, regional, programmatic, linguistic, and philosophical differences.
  11. Data driven. We use data to assess effectiveness, analyze needs, and create a diversity of housing and service options.
  12. Safety and emergency plans. We ensure the safety of all individuals and families seeking assistance including, assuring rapid linkage to emergency and victim services.


CHAT or the “Continuum Homeless Action Team.” is made up of street-level outreach workers from several grassroots organizations in Macon County. The CHAT team reaches out to individuals/families who have been homeless for a long period of time. The team gets to know them personally, they contact them weekly, and they keep track of them. The goal is to reduce the danger to them and reduce the harm they might do to others, and to gain their confidence so they will engage with our system. Thanks to CHAT, the “hard to reach” population is being moved off the streets and into housing in a rapid and successful manner.

Intake and Assessment

The intake and assessment process has several steps that are followed in sequence. The principles behind this are to respect the dignity of each person and address immediate crises without burdening the person with unneeded inquiries and paperwork.

HUD and other funding sources have detailed and complex requirements for determining eligibility for various services and housing. However, the intent of Macon County’s CE system is to use only those forms and collect only that information that are needed for the next step in the process. Workers explain the purpose for each form and safeguard the privacy of each person.

The stages in the intake and assessment process are:

  1. Engagement and Brief Assessment (safety, diversion)
  2. Prevention Services, if appropriate
  3. Immediate Bridge Housing (shelter) placement, if appropriate
  4. Triage - Full Assessment
  5. Prioritization
  6. Eligibility Determinations
  7. Referrals (services and housing), verify full eligibility as appropriate.
  8. Return to CE with documentation is unable to provide services.
  9. Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)

HMIS is a local information technology system used to collect client-level data and data on the provision of housing and services to homeless individuals and families and persons at risk of homelessness.

Engagement and Brief Assessment

When any person comes to the Homeward Bound CE center or a secondary access point, and presents with a problem, the staff conducts an initial interview. Street outreach and phone workers take steps to assure reasonable privacy for this step.

The Brief Assessment tool is a simple one-page form. It is designed to identify and address immediate crises, identify, and refer victims of domestic violence (including stalking, sexual assault, and trafficking), and determine if diversion is possible and appropriate.

Full Assessment

With seven days of intake, a CE staff member conducts a full assessment of persons who were not diverted or have not self-resolved their homeless situations. With consent of the participant, CE enters data on all such persons into HMIS before the full assessment is administered.


CE prioritizes the hardest cases first. CE uses the Prioritization Policy approved by the CoC’s Governing Board (see Appendix B). The policy prioritizes all cases in the following order:

  1. Persons and families experiencing chronic homelessness

             1.1.   Those with the longest time in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or an emergency shelter

             1.2.   Those with severe service needs

  1. Persons and families experiencing non-chronic homelessness

             2.1.   Those with a disability with long periods of episodic homelessness and severe service needs

             2.2.   Those with a disability with severe service needs

             2.3.   Those with a disability coming from places not meant for human habitation, safe haven, or emergency shelter
                       without severe service needs

             2.4.   Those with a disability coming from transitional housing

             2.5.   All others

Case Management

Case Management seeks to ensure that each participant receives exceptional participant-centered services to move them from crisis to resources that will empower them to remain self-sufficient.

 Transitional Housing

Homeward Bound houses families and individuals in scattered-site locations for up to 24 months, providing case management and other supportive services, as needed. This housing is designed to provide homeless individuals and families with the interim stability and support to successfully move to and maintain permanent housing.

Transitional Housing is also available for recent parolees, through a contract from Illinois Department of Corrections.

Permanent Supportive Housing, Dove, Inc. leasing several units throughout the community and these units are used to provide supportive housing to those individuals and families that are eligible for permanent support. Supportive housing is an evidence-based housing intervention that combines non-time-limited affordable housing assistance with wrap-around supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, as well as other people with disabilities.

Elmwood, owned by Elmwood I, Inc. opened in 2003. First Presbyterian Church and Dove, Inc. partnered on the refurbishing of these classic apartments in Decatur’s Historic District. Homeward Bound provides case management for those living in these eight units of permanent supportive housing.

Harbor Place is eight units of permanent housing for households who meet the HUD definition of homelessness. Dove, Inc., owns Harbor Place and Homeward Bound provides the services.

St. James Place SRO's, which opened in 2008, is a permanent housing project, owned by Dove. There are 14 Single Room Occupancy units of permanent housing for chronically homeless individuals. Supportive services are provided by Heritage Behavioral Health Center.

Rapid Rehousing

Housing stabilization and time limited financial/rental assistance ranging from short to medium-term (3 months to 24 months) and other services in accordance with program guidelines.


Prevention Services

Homeless prevention services include any interventions with organizations that keep persons from homelessness. Typical prevention services include assistance with back rent or utilities, referrals for legal representation, and foreclosure avoidance. CE staff may arrange for homeless prevention services from a variety of local charitable resources.

When prevention resources are scarce, CE prioritizes clients. The following types of clients are prioritized for prevention assistance:

  • Persons in imminent danger of losing their nighttime residence
  • Families with children
  • Unaccompanied youth
  • Households which lack financial resources and support networks to help them obtain housing on their own

Note that specific eligibility requirements exist when prevention services are funded through HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. In such cases, CE staff will follow HUD’s ESG eligibility documentation standards. All persons referred for ESG prevention services must be enrolled in the Coordinated Entry project in HMIS, and the Universal Data Elements must be collected and entered in HMIS.