SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) -During the pandemic, Helping Hands of Springfield is actually helping more homeless people in the community by giving them a second chance.

The Director, Erica Smith, says social distancing in a homeless shelter isn't exactly an easy task.

"The thing we saw immediately is, if you want to protect people who are in the shelter and reduce the risk of a COVID outbreak; we need to have fewer people if we are going to social distance," Smith says. "How you have fewer people in an emergency shelter is, you house them."

According to Smith, a couple of grants the shelter recently received are helping them move more people into housing than ever before.

"We got $15,000 from Housing Action Illinois," Smith says. "We got another $4,500 as part of a grant from our local community foundation Covid-19 fund."

Helping Hands is breaking records. Smith says in the past two months, they have moved 12 people into housing.

"Total with these funds, we'll see about 20 people, who were living in a homeless shelter or on the street, who will be housed by time this is all done," Smith says.

According to Smith, the organization chose clients they believe could sustain housing.

"You want to make sure you don't move people into an apartment if they don't have the income or other issues going on that they won't be able to sustain it," Smith says.

The organization will spend about $1,000 on each person they move out.

"We never move someone into an empty apartment," Smith says. "We make sure they have the basic furniture and supplies they need to set up a home."

According to Smith, if COVID-19 has made one thing clear; housing is health care.

"If you have to quarantine, or you have to social distance, that's a health care need," Smith says. "You have to have a house to do that."

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