(Originally written on 12/19/14): Here's the good news: The Iowa City City Council approved $20,000 to pay for a temporary homeless shelter at the old Aldi's building on Gilbert Street in Iowa City. This shelter would be staffed by two people, would provide shelter for 20-25 people, and would be in operation in January and February 2015. This would alleviate some of the overcrowding at the Shelter House and could be used as a "wet shelter" (i.e., be available for individuals who'd been drinking). Those individuals are turned away from the Shelter House.
And then there's the bad news: A group of business owners that operate near the old Aldi's building have begun fighting back against the temporary shelter. According to KCJJ, they are concerned about increased criminal activity. They also appear concerned that this temporary shelter will become a permanent homeless shelter.
A petition has been signed by 37 representatives of nearby businesses. They want the Iowa City City Council "to refrain from funding, participating in and/or providing any financial or other support for the creation and/or operation of any homeless shelter at any location other than the location now operated by Shelter House."
Updated on 12/25/14: It seemed like a good time to update both of these stories.
First, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved $16,000 yesterday towards the creation of the new temporary homeless shelter. It was approved by a 5-0 vote.
Second, a few local business owners have begun pulling their names from the linked petition. For example, co-owner Mark Paterno of Marco's Taxicabs has communicated to the city and to various social media sites (including this very blog) that an employee with no authorization signed the petition. As you can read below, the owners of Marco's Taxicabs support the creation of this temporary homeless shelter. Additionally, Jeff McNutt of Jeff McNutt Art has told the city that "it was never his intention to deny funding or shelter for the homeless." Also, Paul Young of Sweet Livin' Antiques approves of the temporary shelter. He just does not want this to become a permanent shelter location.
The new temporary shelter is scheduled to open on January 5, 2015, and remain open through the end of February. I have seen them advertising for temporary part-time paid and volunteer staff to run this location of Facebook.