Area homeless shelters adjusting services moving into spring

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 6:17 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - As we leave winter behind and continue into spring, many organizations that provide assistance for those experiencing homelessness are adjusting their services.

The biggest change at both Willis Dady in Cedar Rapids and Shelter House in Iowa City are their seasonal spaces closing.

So that means less space for people to stay as we move into these spring and summer months. However, both shelters say having those winter shelters give them a change to connect with people and continue to help them with services as the months go on. So, people experiencing homelessness still have a variety of resources the organizations can help them with.

Christine Ralston, Development Director for Shelter House in Iowa City, said having the extra space at their Winter Shelter during the cold months not only provides sanctuary for those who need it, but allows their street outreach case manager to connect with those staying there and help build trust between them.

”As winter shelter closes, he is able to work with them to find an alternative place to spend the evening. Now, a lot of people choose not to come to emergency shelter because a shelter is a tricky environment. It’s not calming to be in an emergency shelter. However there are other opportunities,” said Ralston.

Those opportunities can include helping people move into permanent housing and other services Shelter House offers.

”Our goal isn’t just to shelter someone for the temporary period. It’s to ensure that when they leave shelter they’re leaving to a housing situation,” said Ralston.

In Cedar Rapids, leaders with Willis Dady also emphasize the importance of making those connections during the cold months when more people seek out homeless shelters.

”During the warmer months, we’ll be out there meeting them where they’re at. If they’re camping under a bridge, if they’re camped out by the trail, wherever they are we meet with them and build up that rapport and help to get them housed,” said Aaron Terrones, Support Services Director for Willis Dady.

Working on a case to case basis to find what best fits each person.

”That relationship and respecting that autonomy and allowing the client or the guest to guide the process is the key. Because ultimately its what’s right for that person. Meeting them where they’re at and helping them to get the accommodations or the resources and services they need based on what feels right to them,” said Ralston.

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