Shelter House adds new building to house chronically homeless, begins constructing interior

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Within the next year, Shelter House aims to house 36 more people experiencing a very specific kind of homelessness. Through their 501 Project, they want to offer resources for those who are chronically homeless. Units will be offered and fit the needs of those who request them.

“Every tenant will have a project-based voucher, so the housing is guaranteed to be affordable,” said Executive Director Crissy Canganelli.

Federal data show that Iowa had 368 people were chronically homeless as of January of 2020. Chronically homeless means they’ve been unhoused for at least a year while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder or physical disability. An expensive endeavor to address a complex problem.

“We get $3 million a year from the federal government through HUD, and we have funded this project with 2.7 million,” said Iowa Finance Authority Program Analyst, Rita Eble.

With part of this project paid for by the Iowa Finance Authority, the other part is paid for by Shelter House.

“We’re taking on, with partnership with our local banking institution, some substantial debt with the intention of, over the next few years, working through a capital campaign to retire that debt,” Canganelli said.

The new building will offer onsite supportive services residents may need such as mental health counseling, addiction recovery, wellness recovery. But those services aren’t required in order to get shelter.

“It is our guarantee as a provider that we will provide those services if and when they’re sought,” Canganelli said.

For Iowa Finance Authority Board, Shelter House, and Johnson County, the expenses for this new facility are worth it for the city and county as a whole.

“Saving money on costs that otherwise would be spent on hospital calls, ambulances, police, reports and stuff like that,” Eble said.

Construction crews aim to have the building ready and open by June of next year.

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