Organizers close to opening overflow shelter in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -- For months, organizers in Cedar Rapids have been searching for an overflow homeless shelter- and as of Saturday, they might have found one.

Organizers say they still have some details to work out, but organizers say they are close to officially signing a lease.

On the same Saturday night, people gathered outside Newbo City Market in an effort to combat homelessness in the area.

Despite temperatures dropped into the mid 20's, it did not dissuade some from pitching tents.

"We will be happy if, when people walk away, they go home and they go: 'we have to do more for homeless people in this area," said John Derryberry, Executive Director for Family Promise of Linn County.

The event that hits close to home for some that set up camp.

"Three different times throughout my life growing up, I was actually homeless," said Nicole Pulvermacher describing her childhood. "[We] didn't have a house for five kids and two parents so we ended up in a tent at Pleasant Creek in Palo."

Cedar Rapids has a little more than one hundred beds in the area to serve the homeless. As the temperatures have dropped, organizers worked for months to find an overflow shelter.

"If we have a population struggling, then there's a part of Cedar Rapids that is struggling," Derryberry said.

"If we don't have a space, people will die outside," said Alicia Faust, who works with Willis Dady Homeless Services. "And that is something that is terrifying to think of, even with as cold as it's getting so early in the season."

But now the committe Faust is a part of believes they have found a location in downtown Cedar Rapids- one that would help an additional 30-40 people per night, and just might just provide everything they have been looking for.

"That's really been the struggle it's just finding a space that is centralized where our services are and where our clients are," Faust said. "The more individuals individuals that we're seeing in need of safe shelter, the bigger space that we need."

Faust said organizers are looking to move in quickly after signing the lease, aiming for a December 1 opening date, and an official announcement should come in the next week or two.