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Governments from across Johnson County discuss collaboration on shelter

BY BILL COONEY | APRIL 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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Towns from across Johnson County discussed plans for the continuation of the county’s winter homeless shelter program Tuesday night.

Officials from around the county gathered Monday evening at the Coralville City Hall for their quarterly joint meeting.

One of the items on the table was the winter homeless shelter program that lasted from January to the middle of March earlier this year.

The local governmental entities used Monday’s meeting as an opportunity to start a discussion on a potential location and preliminary funding for next winter’s shelter.

“We need to plan and collaborate now so when that cold weather does come, we’re not caught off guard,” said Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors has set aside $15,000 for next winter’s shelter in its annual budget, and Neuzil said he hopes other county governments follow suit.

The shelter, 1534 S. Gilbert St., was initially met by skepticism by nearby business owners, but Neuzil hailed the shelter as a success.

“Last winter, we had a lot of people out there in dangerous situations with the cold,” he said. “There was collaboration between the board and Iowa City that allowed us to find a location for the shelter.”

Neuzil pointed out that police reported fewer nuisance calls related to homeless people with the shelter put up.

Supervisor Mike Carberry praised Iowa City’s leadership with the shelter.

“Iowa City did a great job in taking a leadership role in getting this project going,” he said. “Next year, I hope more cities are willing to collaborate and work together on this.”

More collaboration between the cities is necessary because homelessness isn’t Iowa City’s problem alone, Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said.

“This is a countywide problem. It isn’t an issue that has borders or boundaries,” he said. “Iowa City is ready to continue and work with other cities on this project in the future.”


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