CARBONDALE, IL – Could an empty field help fight homelessness?

The city of Carbondale is offering an old football field as a possible site for a small homes village for homeless people.

In its glory days, the field was the old Carbondale Community High School football field. Now, it sits empty. Ariel Lanier and Matthew King live next to the field.  They told me they think it could serve a better purpose.

“They haven’t really done anything with it. Every now and then you get some kids who come out and play football from SIU,” said Lanier and King.

An advocacy group called the Sparrow Coalition in Carbondale wants to build the small home village for the homeless in the field.

“These will be beautiful new homes —small but a wonderful addition the community,” said Sparrow Coalition Co-Chair Marleen Shepherd.

The project has the full support of the city. The city even offered the group the land as proof of its support.

“It lifts them up, makes them feel more like a person, gives them self-respect. People want to have a job,” said Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.

It might not look like much now, but if the site is chosen as the housing development, the Sparrow Coalition and the city have big plans to make people proud to call the place home.

“Hopefully, a community garden. They can have areas they can go out, and have lawn furniture, and mini playground that they can use for them and their children,” said Henry.

Lanier said she supports any project that would get people off the streets.

“I think it would be wonderful. It would really help a lot. I would like to see those people off the streets. It would be great,” said Lanier.

The Sparrow Coalition hopes to turn in a business plan to the city this fall.

Some of the funding for the project will come from capital campaigns and donations. Henry said if the football field does not work out, the city has other lands to offer.