Shelter House gets three more years to support position that brings services out to the community

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 5:35 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Shelter House in Iowa City currently offers housing, food, water, and resources for a better life to the people they serve. Now, the nonprofit has guaranteed funding for a crucial part of its services for the next three years.

The position title is Street Outreach Engagement Specialist. To Sam Brooks, who currently fills the tole, it means taking a step outside Shelter House and meeting people where they are.

“I love this community and I don’t like seeing people who are not able to thrive the same way as everyone else,” said Brooks.

During a city council meeting last Tuesday, council members unanimously voted to continue it’s has partnership with Shelter House and extend the funding for this position for three more years.

“It makes sense, it’s productive and effective, and the longer we can have that partnership, the more successful we can be,” said Brooks.

On any given day, he goes out into the community, builds relationships with people experiencing homelessness. By bringing Shelter House services to them, he establishes a trust that is otherwise difficult to build in these situations.

Development Director Christine Hayes says the position is crucial for bringing people what they need, when they need it.

“They’ve had problems with systems in the past, the systems have failed them. And they have a very healthy and reasonable distrust in the system,” said Hayes.

She says the extension was necessary to keep the street outreach role.

“This is the type of position where it’s hard to find funding for it. It’s not one that can easily slip into a box for other funding sources,” said Hayes.

With that funding, they are one step closer to achieving their overall mission.

“What we’re working to end and seeing great success at is the individuals who are on the street for weeks and months and years and decades,” said Hayes.

Over the next three years, the city will provide $35,000, $36,050 and then just over $37,000 to help fund the position.