Monday, December 14, 2015

Shelter House Finds Location for Temporary Homeless Shelter in Iowa City During Coming Winter Months // Updated on 12/14/15: The Winter Emergency Shelter Opens Tonight

(Originally written on 11/24/15): Last winter, Iowa City's Shelter House opened a temporary secondary homeless shelter that was capable of housing 20-25 people per night during the months of January and February 2015. This was created in order to alleviate some of the overcrowding that happens during the winter months at the Shelter House, but is was also used as a "wet shelter" (i.e., allowed individuals who had been drinking alcohol). Those individuals are turned away from the Shelter House. The temporary homeless shelter was a huge success. Iowa City Police reported a 95% decrease in vagrancy calls in the shelter's first month of operation. Basically, people weren't seeking protection from the cold in the hallways of local apartment buildings.

Shelter House wanted to open temporary shelter again this winter in Iowa City, but struggled to secure a location. The old Aldi grocery story building is no longer available and other places were not open to the idea.

Until now. Shelter House announced earlier today that they have located a new location for the temporary homeless shelter:
SouthGate will allow Shelter House to set up the temporary shelter — rent free from December through March, with Shelter House responsible for utilities — at the former TMone building, at 1925 Boyrum St. on the corner of Boyrum Street and Southgate Avenue, just across the street from Shelter House, 429 Southgate Ave.

“We’ve been looking and we’ve been talking with people, but property owners outright said no or the rent that we were going to need to come up with made the project unfeasible,” Canganelli said. “We have finally worked through the details and are going to be partnering with SouthGate this year ... it’s only because of that that we’re going to be able to proceed with the project.”

Joe Hughes, director of real estate operations for SouthGate, said the agreement with Shelter House worked out perfectly.

“We’ve had this property in mind for the Shelter House overflow for months. Our goal was to provide a much needed solution for people who are struggling in our community and do it as soon as possible,” he said in an email. “When we learned that the building will be available for this winter, we jumped on the opportunity to create a warm home for those most in need.”
It's unfortunate that a secondary homeless shelter is needed in Iowa City, but this was a great service last winter. It paid for itself by reducing calls to the police on vagrancy calls, plus people weren't forced to camp out in the city admin building/police department.

Updated on 12/14/15: The new temporary homeless shelter is opening tonight. That means that there are up to 20 additional beds available each night for this community's homeless population.

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