Council OKs temp shelter


Rachael Westergard

The temporary homeless shelter is seen on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 in Iowa City, IA. The shelter opens in the evening and provides donated bedding and cots for those in need. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

By Austin Petroski

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All the main questions regarding a temporary winter homeless shelter have been resolved.

The Iowa City City Council approved a resolution Monday authorizing City Manager Tom Markus to contribute $20,000 toward a temporary homeless shelter. The authorization also approved the ability for Markus to contribute $10,000 more to the shelter if needed.

“We’re exploring options available for a permanent location for the shelter,” Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said.

This move comes after the owners of last year’s location did not make the space available to move forward with renovation work. The location had been a former Aldi, 1534 S. Gilbert St. The new location will be farther away from downtown.

Shelter House, a local nonprofit dedicated toward providing shelter for those in Iowa City, has 70 beds available and was seeking a location in which any homeless resident would have a place to stay during the cold weather.

Councilors took it upon themselves to commit to finding a new permanent location in a planning work session after the formal council meeting Monday.

“We have an ongoing commitment to work with the Iowa City Shelter House,” Councilor Jim Throgmorton said.

A permanent location has been in the talks for some time, because officials have had to rely on donation from private organizations to contribute to the cause over the past few years. This year’s location was not secured until last week.

Markus said there has been a good amount of push to the council in securing funds for a permanent location.

“The Iowa shelter keeps coming back to us every year to seek a location,” he said.

Fruin said many people have asked for a permanent location, including the local homeless coordinating board.

The Johnson County Local Homeless Coordinating Board consists of 20 organizations in the Iowa City area — including the city of Iowa City, Iowa City police, Johnson County Services, along with numerous governmental organizations and private nonprofit organizations in the area.

The organization stages numerous initiatives in the Iowa City area in order to help end homelessness. The coordinating board also helps to fund the winter emergency shelter.

The current Shelter House has certain requirements for clients. However, the temporary location will be available for anyone in need and will not come with any restrictions.

This will help those in the homeless community struggling with drug or alcohol addictions, or who otherwise do not qualify for the shelter, officials said.

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