Overnight Issues Drop As More Homeless Sleep At Iowa City Hall

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Homeless people in Iowa City have found a popular overnight sleeping spot and it's leading to less issues for police.

According to Lt. Mike Brotherton, trespassing complaints have virtually vanished since they began allowing more people to sleep in the lobby of city hall, which is right down the hall from the police department.

"We were going from call to call dealing with homeless people or transients," Brotherton said. "Apartment buildings, parking garages, laundromats, any place that was open 24-hours we were giving trespass warnings."

We first reported on homeless people sleeping at city hall last month. At that time a couple people were sleeping in the building lobby on a nightly basis. Thursday night about a dozen men and women were scattered around the area.

"It's grown, but we aren't having many issues," Brotherton said. "We are just doing community outreach, we're trying to help those that need it."

"It takes us out of the freezing weather that would probably kill us," said Frank Nicastri, who recently began sleeping in the building. "Sometimes it's more [than a dozen], sometimes it's less."

Nicastri said of the several cities he's lived in, he's never encountered a city that allows sleeping in city hall.

"Not even the small ones," he said.

Brotherton routinely walks the area to check on the sleepers. Occasionally he sprays air freshener and tidies up small messes.

Many of the people say they wont sleep at Shelter House, the areas only homeless shelter, because it's too crowded or they've been kicked out for policy violations.
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