IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa City police lieutenant Mike Brotherton is encouraged that the city council is talking about homeless issues in the community. The council spent more than a half-hour discussing homelessness at a work session Tuesday night.
"I think genuinely most citizens are concerned about the homeless population," Brotherton said. "We might see something done about it. I think the council reacts to what they hear from the community."
Brotherton said he left the meeting feeling "optimistic" after speaking briefly to council members at the end of the meeting.
"It's really a small minority we're focused on here," he said. "The ones who are resistant to come in for resources or help, they're out there not coming in on their own."
The council spent a large portion of the meeting talking about successes at the 70-bed homeless shelter, Shelter House, which opened two years ago in the southern portion of Iowa City.
"We run at capacity almost every night," said Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House. The goal of the shelter, which is the only in the community, is to help people get back on their feet, Canganelli told council members.
A recent survey in the city found 26 people living on the streets. Canganelli said many of those individuals opt not seek the services of Shelter House because of drug and alcohol issues. The shelter does not allow individuals who have been using drugs or alcohol to stay at the facility.
The council ended the session without discussing any possible solutions, but Brotherton said he believes the issue will come-up again in the future.
"Those 26 people need help," he said.
At least one person has contacted the city about starting an "overflow shelter" according to city records.
"I'd like us to be a little more careful as a community when we talk about that," said Canganelli. "You're not looking for overflow, that's not what people are looking for, they're looking for a wet shelter."
Wet Shelter is a term for a facility that allows individuals who have been using substances.