Iowa City City Council extends Shelter House street outreach and engagement specialist program

After a year of success with Shelter House’s street outreach and engagement specialists position, the Iowa City City Council extended its agreement with Shelter House for three more.


Gabby Drees

Shelter House executive director Crissy Cannganelli speaks at an Iowa City City Council meeting at City Hall in Iowa City on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Cangaenlli has served for the past 18 years at the Shelter House and attended the meeting as the City Council approved a collaborative plan with Shelter House helping to fund full-time civilian positions for homeless street outreach.

Isabelle Foland and Sydney Libert

The Iowa City City Council unanimously voted to approve a three-year agreement with Shelter House to continue the street outreach and engagement specialist program Tuesday. 

The council entered a one-year agreement in February 2021 with the non-profit organization that provides housing, supplies, and resource services to homeless people in the Iowa City area to create the street outreach and engagement position. 

Iowa City is committing $35,000, $36,050, and $37,100 to Shelter House over the three-year period to help fund the position, according to City Council documents.  

The city has provided Shelter House funding from grant money to hire full-time civilians for a street outreach and engagement specialist position, which began in April 2021. 

People in this position help connect individuals experiencing homelessness to resources they need, such as housing, survival supplies, and mental health resources. 

Sam Brooks currently holds the street outreach and engagement specialist position.

Shelter House Executive Director Crissy Canganelli said since the initial agreement a year ago, the non-profit has served 155 individuals experiencing homelessness, 17 of which being children under the age of 18. She added that 84 of the 155 individuals have been permanently housed.

Additionally, Canganelli said Shelter House street outreach and engagement specialists work directly with people experiencing homelessness who are struggling with substance use.

“The street outreach and engagement specialists regularly work with individuals who are known to use opioids …[the specialists] supply Narcan, and [receive] training on how to administer it, so as to prevent overdoses,” Canganelli said. “The shelter house works to ensure access to clean needles and provide sharp containers.” 

Canganelli said the street outreach and engagement specialists helped to reduce calls to the police department regarding individuals experiencing homelessness. 

We focus on reducing calls for service to the police and have together avoided a myriad of charges ranging from public intoxication to trespassing,” she said.

Iowa City police Captain of Field Operations Denise Brotherton said the partnership between Shelter House and Iowa City has been very helpful to Iowa City police in the last year, and she wants to see this partnership continue.

“We just believe that the continuation of this position and this partnership with Shelter House will continue to serve and protect those most vulnerable citizens and community members in our city,” Brotherton said.

Mayor Pro Tem Megan Alter said she is impressed by the progress Shelter House has made in the last year.

I’m so glad that it’s extended and I can’t wait to see as it matures how the collaboration continues,” Alter said. “Eighty-four permanently housed already is truly amazing. I can’t wait to see how this program flourishes.”  

Mayor Bruce Teague expressed his support for the continuation of the Shelter House agreement.

“I think it’s significant because it really does offer people information resources,” Teague said. “What I would really call it is hope.”

Facebook Comments