Changes being made to transportation to overflow shelter

Cedar Rapids transit buses move along downtown Cedar Rapids streets on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020...
Cedar Rapids transit buses move along downtown Cedar Rapids streets on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 28, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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People who use the overflow shelter in Cedar Rapids are now facing a change in how they will be able to get there each night after officials removed a previously existing option.

When the low-barrier shelter first opened, those utilizing the service could get on a free shuttle from the downtown area to the shelter. Representatives with Willis Dady Homeless Services said they will no longer be providing the ride to the shelter Monday through Friday but will continue the ride leaving the shelter in the morning.

The overflow shelter is a place for those who either don’t meet the qualifications to live at a local homeless shelter or would otherwise be living on the streets during the winter. Around 50 people use the facility on a nightly basis.

“I was on and off the streets for the last 3 years,” Christine Gray said.

Gray said she has been homeless since August and has spent much of the winter at the overflow shelter. She pays every month for a bus pass, but says some of her friends aren’t able to because of a lack of money.

The change in policy was made late last week.

“Because the overflow is very basic, it’s a warm place to sleep and a restroom and that’s about it, the change is allowing us to recognize duplicating services,” Phoebe Trepp, executive director at Willis Dady, said.

Trepp said a majority of the people who use the shelter already get a free bus ride because of health insurance or another discount program available to them. She said they have helped two people get to the shelter since the change went in to effect last week and hope to help the clients navigate through already available resources.

“People will be able to access those services long-term,” Trepp said. “They’ll know how to get their bus passes next month when the overflow shelter is closed.”

Those are resources Gray said she and many others wouldn’t be able to get along without.

“It could be a lot worse for us,” Gray said.

Trepp said the rides will still be provided to and from the shelter on Saturday and Sunday.