Neighbors of Willis Dady overflow shelter raise concerns

Neighbors of Willis Dady overflow shelter raise concerns
Neighbors of Willis Dady overflow shelter raise concerns(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 18, 2020 at 9:51 PM CST
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Around 50 people without homes use the Willis Dady overflow shelter at the Fillmore Center each day to get out of the elements, but neighbors said it’s hurting their community.

“They were standing out on the curb drinking alcohol and throwing trash around,” said Tana Bowers.

Bowers lives across the street from the facility. She and her neighbors said emergency responders are at the facility at all hours of the night.

“We’ve called the police a few times because of what was going on over there,” she said.

Those with the Cedar Rapids Police Department said they’ve responded to 56 calls for help since the facility opened in November. 34 of those were calls of disturbance, intoxication or trespassing. However, the biggest concern is that one of the people residing at the facility is on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry List and lives within 2000 feet of a Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy.

“Those kids get to school at about 7:50 in the morning at the shelter lets everyone out of there at around 8:00 AM, so there is some crossover time,” she said.

Those with Willis Dady said they couldn’t respond to questions about clients being on the Sex Offender Registry list, but said 56 calls is a lot for the more than two months the facility has been open.

“Overflow started as a life-saving option for people,” Trepp said. “Frostbite is a huge problem for our clients.”

She said the community needs to work together to find the help of all levels for their clients, starting with more affordable housing.

“Until there’s housing, the options are overflow shelter or sleeping outside,” she said. “The community might disagree on the rights to housing, but I think we can all agree that everyone deserves the right to a warm bed and shouldn't die in the streets of Cedar Rapids.”

Those with Willis Dady said they are still looking for a permanent location for an overflow shelter. Bowers hopes it isn’t in the Fillmore Center or near any schools if people on the Sex Offender Registry list are going to be allowed to reside there.

“There’s plenty of building that they could put them,” said Bowers. “Why not closer to downtown where the services are?”