Willis Dady opens temporary overflow shelter for the homeless at new location

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- As winter approaches in the coming weeks, that could also lead to more and more people in Cedar Rapids who need shelter.

Willis Dady and several other local groups are trying to help people in the city who battle homelessness as the temperature continues to fall.

Usually, their homeless shelter reaches capacity, especially during the colder months and they can't accept more people.

But with the overflow shelter at their new location 505 33rd Ave SW, they'll be able to take in a lot more people.

The shelter will be open from November 15 - March 15.

For those living in the downtown Cedar Rapids area, they can catch a bus at 7:45 p.m. each day outside the downtown Cedar Rapids Library that will take them to the new overflow shelter location.

Last year their temporary shelter could only hold about 40 people, but this new location will be able to accommodate a lot more.

Back in July, Willis Dady started looking for a new location for their temporary shelter.

The space they used for the last two years was no longer available.

They found a location in downtown Cedar Rapids but later found out the building wouldn't be a safe place for people to stay.

Then an anonymous donor lent out the Southwest location so those living on the streets can escape the harsh winter.

"Anyone coming in will check in at 8 p.m. and will be given a cot, blankets, pillows, we'll probably have a coffee pot going, but it's pretty basic so other than that they'll sleep throughout the night, everybody will be out again by 8 in the morning," says Phoebe Trepp, Executive Director of Willis Dady.

There's even a private area for women and children to stay, clean bathrooms, heat, and electricity.

Willis Dady is also working with the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Marion Police Department, and hospitals.

For example, if an officer sees anyone outside in the middle of the night, they can take them to this overflow shelter to get them out of the cold.

Trepp says those who are forced to stay outside are put in dangerous situations as the weather gets colder, some will even get frostbite or worst.

"It's not uncommon for people to light small fires to try and stay warm and that can result in setting a tent on fire, which leads to a really dangerous situation, burns and tragically people do die on the streets in the winter," Trepp said.

This homeless shelter will also be accepting walk-ins, but they do encourage people to call homeless services at 319-366-7999.

They'll be open seven days a week from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

And Willis Dady says they're still in desperate need of donations like pillows, blankets, cots, and garbage bags.

You can even drop them off in person at the new location at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 14.