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New temporary shelter a possibility

BY NICHOLAS MOFFITT | DECEMBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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For those not allowed at other shelters in Iowa City, winters can be harsh — but a new temporary shelter is in the works to give those people a place to stay.

The Shelter House and the Local Homeless Collaboration Board are teaming up to potentially provide a temporary shelter at the former location of Aldi’s, 1534 S. Gilbert St.

The shelter would provide a place for 20 to 25 people on average from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day, said Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House.

According to the Iowa City assessor, the building contains 15,492 square feet.

“The facility was the most limiting issue,” Canganelli said. “Finding a location for the shelter was tough, because it had to take into account finances, location, and an owner willing to let the space be used as a shelter.”

The shelter, according to the emergency-funding request submitted to the city by Canganelli, is “intended to address the emergency shelter needs of these individuals who are homeless or chronically homeless.”

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a measure today that authorizes the city manager’s office to give $20,000 to the project.

Councilor Kingsley Botchway II said the project is a step in the right direction of improving social services in Iowa City.

“It’s trying to be proactive about the potential situation,” he said. “I’m excited they’re putting it forward, and there’s a bigger question that has to be dealt with as well.”

Botchway said he’d like to see more money given to social services in Iowa City.

The potential facility’s budget is at $67,760, plus $24,495 of in-kind gifts, to bring the total budget to $92,255.

Canganelli said the budget for Shelter House is already stretched thin, so support from local municipalities and other organizations is needed to make the temporary shelter possible.

To cover the rest of the expenses, requests have been sent to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, city of Coralville, city of North Liberty, United Way, and the community foundation of Johnson County.

The shelter has received in-kind gifts from numerous organizations, including Hodge Construction, which is renting the building for $2,500 per month, a $3,000 per month discount.

The Iowa City police have also offered an in-kind gift of prioritizing a walk-through of the shelter hourly.

“This is an excellent example of the local business community stepping forward to partner and collaborate with the nonprofit and public sectors to address a local need,” she said.

She said it would be a barebones service, which is there to provide a safe place to sleep for those in need.

The request states that the shelter would be supervised at all times by two employees and the shelter would buy 40 sets of sleeping mats and bedding.

Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said opening the shelter was sparked by last year’s harsh winter. Shelter House and the Local Homeless Collaboration Board are working on a long-term plan, because the temporary shelter won’t be a recurring thing.

“As of right now [it’s] just a short-term project; we don’t anticipate it to repeat itself,” he said.


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