Shelter House prepares to open winter day shelter

Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 10:27 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -Shelter House in Iowa City is opening a day shelter for the winter to give people experiencing homelessness a place to stay safe and warm.

Director of Development for Shelter House Christine Ralston says their new day shelter is needed now more than ever. They offer an overnight winter shelter every year. During the day, people will go to public buildings to escape the cold. But those places are closed because of the pandemic. ”The winter shelter is critical. And the reality is, this is a service that would be beneficial anytime. The pandemic makes it an absolute necessity,” says Ralston.

Ralston says the day shelter is coming at an important time. She says more people are experiencing homelessness because of COVID-19. It will be at the Iowa City downtown recreation center and is opening Monday. Shelter House says the city provided the building for them to use, and the non-profit will be applying for grants to pay for staffing and other resources. ”It is a surprisingly expensive endeavor, because the individuals who will be staffing, they’re highly qualified. They’re staffing here for 8 hours a day, in addition to the evening shelter there,” says Ralston.

Ralston says event-based fundraisers have halted during the pandemic, so they are shifting to mostly online fundraising. This past week was National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Thanks to a virtual twist, and the help of local restaurants, Shelter House was able to meet its fundraising goal for the the non-profit an important boost this year. ”It’s not the same. People like to get together, and feel like they’re a part of something that matters. And we’re grateful that they’re choosing, so many of our donors, are choosing to come through anyways,” says Ralston.

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