Gift of God

Pastor Ed Kannapel closed the Gift of God Street Church’s overnight shelter this week due to occupants’ continued use of drugs, alcohol and pornography.

KANKAKEE — The North Fifth Avenue homeless shelter in Kankakee has closed its nighttime operation due to problem homeless individuals.

Pastor Ed Kannapel, who has offered the Gift of God Street Church shelter at 660 N. Fifth Ave. since 2008, closed the overnight service of the shelter this week due to occupants’ continued use of drugs, alcohol and pornography.

As a result of closing the overnight shelter — which ran from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. — a day shelter has replaced it. The day shelter operates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors receive a meal at 3 p.m.

“I have too many men doing activities they shouldn’t,” Kannapel explained.

The shelter operates six days a week, being closed on Sunday.

Kannapel said he has worked repeatedly to make it known these behaviors are not accepted at the shelter, but they have continued and he simply reached the point where he could not open his doors to it any longer.

“This is a Christian organization. I’ve tried to reverse things,” he said. “It’s a tough ministry. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Known as Pastor Ed, Kannapel said the shelter routinely has four to five men a night. He said when the winter weather turns extreme, the shelter could have as many as 30 people.

Nighttime shelter options for the homeless have become fewer since The Salvation Army stopped operating its men’s and women’s shelters along East Court Street in 2017.

The Salvation Army changed its mission from offering nightly shelter to getting its clients into more permanent living quarters and getting those people to become self-sufficient due to budget cuts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD cut annual funding to the Kankakee-base Salvation Army from about $104,000 to $30,000.

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