Agencies in Linn County call for more affordable housing options

Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 3:29 PM CDT
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The way to end homelessness is through more affordable housing options, that's what some leaders in Linn County say is their new mission.

There are about 50 organizations in the area that help with homeless populations. One is the Catherine McAuley Center.

"The need far exceeds the availability,” Jennifer Tibbetts, transitional housing manager at the Catherine McAuley Center, said.

There is a list of people wanting to receive services at the center. The organization helps homeless women and families by providing education and transitional housing services in Cedar Rapids. Doing this requires partnerships.

"And that works with the community because there are other services out there to focus on families with children or veterans,” Tibbetts said.

New data shows women in Linn County most often become homeless due to family issues, like domestic violence. That information was unveiled at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, where representatives from dozens of agencies in Linn County went over updates. Their goal is to minimize area homelessness.

"To also motivate people to want to do something about it,” Tracey Achenbach, executive director for the Housing Fund for Linn County, said.

Achenbach pushes for more affordable housing options in her position in order to better keep people in their homes. She said four households in Cedar Rapids receive eviction notices a day, which is higher than average for a city this size.

"Of course affordable housing is the obstacle for everybody," Achenbach said. "No matter what continuum there are; whether it's homelessness or moderately income trying to buy a home."

Leaders add it's encouraging programs are expanding. The Catherine McAuley Center plans to start construction next year, for additional space along 5th Avenue Southeast. After that, it should be able to help even more people.