Government

Linn County emergency overflow shelter for homeless open

Overflow space now triggered at 32 degrees

Tony Goodwin meets with Mayor Ron Corbett about the issues homeless people, including Goodwin, face in employment, transportation and shelter during a meeting at City Hall in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Tony Goodwin meets with Mayor Ron Corbett about the issues homeless people, including Goodwin, face in employment, transportation and shelter during a meeting at City Hall in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — An emergency overflow homeless shelter has been activated for the 2016-17 winter season to provide a safe place indoors when the weather outside gets extremely cold.

The Linn County Continuum of Care Community Overflow Weather Shelter System steps up to catch overflow demand when regular homeless shelters reach capacity and freezing temperatures take over.

“When providers see a need, we rally together to find solutions that will be successful,” Jennifer Tibbetts, a planning member for the overflow system and staff member at the Catherine McAuley Center, said in a news release.

The biggest change from last winter to this was raising the overflow shelter trigger temperature from 15 degrees Fahrenheit to 32 degrees, due to safety concerns and feedback. The system is to be active when the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below through March 31.

The system has been active since Nov. 1 and was first put to use on Nov. 11, when 16 people used the overflow beds.

Three area shelters set up extra cots for those seeking emergency shelter, and if all the extra cots are filled, additional off-site locations are opened to accommodate “anyone and everyone who lacks shelter for the night,” according to a news release from Waypoint and Willis Dady. Those agencies are among at least 15 that coordinate transportation, registration sites, shelter beds and intake for the overflow season.

Anyone seeking shelter can contact Shelter Services at (319) 366-7999, or walk in to register at Waypoint, 318 Fifth St. SE, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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People seeking shelter can register at area meal sites each evening, including 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday at Green Square Meals, 605 Second Ave. SE; 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Saturday at First Lutheran Church, 1000 Third Ave. SE; and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 310 Fifth St. SE.

Neighborhood Transportation Services is to provide transportation to bring people from registration sites to area shelters

During the 2015-16 season, overflow was opened 42 times, serving 92 unique individuals.

The overflow committee anticipates larger numbers of people seeking emergency shelter this winter, according to a news release from the committee.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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