Iowa City could gain a temporary homeless shelter for the winter months thanks to efforts by the Johnson County Local Homeless Coordinating Board and Shelter House.
The proposed plan is to adapt the former Aldi building (1534 S. Gilbert St.) into a sufficient living space that would also welcome the “service resistant.” This includes those who are unable to stay at Shelter House, oftentimes due to struggles with alcohol or drugs, according to Shelter House Executive Director Crissy Canganelli.
The Iowa City City Council will vote tonight on whether it will allocate $20,000 to the project. Organizers needs about $67 thousand in order to launch, and the board is in the process of obtaining funds from other cities and agencies as well.
“We will need a modest amount of time (no more than a couple of weeks) to apply for the required Temporary Use Permit, address minimal deficiencies within the building, secure necessary supplies and staff,” wrote Canganelli in an email to Little Village. “In the meantime we are still waiting for responses from other funders.”
Last year’s winter saw dozens of homeless people sleeping in the Iowa City City Hall building due to overcapacity at the Iowa City Shelter House, while others resorted to sleeping outside in freezing temperatures.
The temporary shelter, which would remain in operation through February, would serve between 20-25 nightly, Canganelli says.
At the moment, Shelter House is the only homeless center in Johnson County, located at 429 Southgate Ave. in Iowa City. It offers 56 beds plus another 14 reserved for veterans.