Homeless people struggle to find shelter as colder weather approaches

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG)- People spending their days and nights on the streets said it is particularly hard to find a homeless shelter when the weather starts getting cold like it is predicted to this weekend.

Homeless people struggle to find shelter as colder weather approaches

Waypoint Homeless Services said a few beds in the area are available, but those opening change on a daily basis and getting in takes time.

“I don’t have anything,” said Mary Walker of Cedar Rapids.

Walker has been without a roof over her head for the last five months after she fell on hard times. She’s sleeping on the steps of Mission Hope across from Green Square Park.

“I’m going to go to Waypoint to see if they have something,” she said.

Tammy Miller said she and her husband have been looking for a place to get out of the elements for the last two years.

“The women have to go to the women’s shelter and the men have to go to the men’s shelter,” she said. “So they would separate us and we don’t want to do that.”

Miller said she is currently living in the woods with her husband. She’s no stranger to the elements after her tent was recently flooded out and her belongings destroyed, but she has never spent the colder months on the streets.

“Any individual that stops into our shelter will get referred to the proper services,” said Denine Rushing, Shelter Manager at Willis Dady.

Rushing said Willis Dady is completely full, and even if they weren’t, they only take families that have children. She said everyone looking for shelter needs to contact Waypoint Homeless Services.

“You need to call them every day and let them know that you are homeless,” she said. “As soon as they get a bed they will call you and coordinate with you on when you can check in to the shelter.”

Miller and Walker said they’ve been trying for months with no luck. Sure, they can stay with friends to get out of the weather, but it isn’t a permanent roof over their heads.

“They might let me stay for 2 days,” said Walker.

Rushing said Willis Dady is handing out blankets. Those with Waypoint Homeless Services will have emergency shelters for those who desperately need a place to stay in the cold weather.