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Willis Dady working to address complaints at overflow shelter

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:55 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Neighbors of the Linn County overflow shelter on the northwest part of Cedar Rapids said they want the facility moved out of the neighborhood.

According to the police, there have been more than 250 calls on this particular shelter, located on 11th Street NW, since November. Those calls ranged in needs from mental health help to trespassing and theft.

“There are people all over the neighborhood at all different hours walking around,” Tana Bowers, a neighbor to the Willis Dady overflow shelter, said.

Bowers has lived in her home across from the shelter for 21 years. She said her neighborhood was quiet before the shelter moved in. Over the last year, she said they’ve had people sleeping on their lawn, and claims they left behind drugs and alcohol.

Bowers’ biggest concern was the seven sex offenders who list the shelter as their home. Two of those residents had a residency restriction of 2000 feet of a school, and the shelter was next to Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy.

“These students walk to school,” Bowers said. “It has been a little quieter with the pandemic, but most of them cut through the ally of the shelter to get to school.”

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said shelter leaders accepted the responsibility of allowing people with residency restrictions to temporarily live at the shelter. It said the facility was an emergency shelter, and they had nowhere else to go.

“I just wanted to bridge the gap,” Denine Rushing, shelter services director, said. “Even though I don’t live here. I am here every day so, we are a part of the community. I wanted to have the opportunity to officially meet, and try ironing out some of those concerns.”

Rushing said many of the issues happened outside of the shelter property and were out of her hands. She wanted neighbors to reach out with concerns to try and address these issues with the clients.

“All of those concerns were valid, and so that’s why I reached out to the community,” Rushing said. “I wanted to allow them to express their concerns.”

Bowers, on the other hand, understood the people at the shelter needed help but also wanted the facility moved out of this neighborhood.

“Putting the shelter smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, next to a school, was not an ideal location,” Bowers said.

Those wanting to voice concerns about the shelter can do so via email.

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