Government

Linn County shelter will open at Fillmore Center

People in Red Cross shelter moving today as search for housing continues

Denine Rushing smooths a blanket on a cot Friday at the Fillmore Center in northwest Cedar Rapids, preparing for the doz
Denine Rushing smooths a blanket on a cot Friday at the Fillmore Center in northwest Cedar Rapids, preparing for the dozen or so people left homeless by the Aug. 10 derecho moving in Saturday. The American Red Cross is closing its emergency shelter at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and the city and Linn County, working with Willis Dady Homeless Services, are helping them move to the Fillmore. Rushing, a shelter director, said the shelter has 51 cots set up. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The emergency shelter set up in Veterans Memorial Coliseum will close Saturday morning.

It was opened for those whose homes became uninhabitable after the Aug. 10 derecho.

The people who’ve been staying there — fewer than a dozen now — will be moving to the Fillmore Center, which will be open until Sept. 30 in an arrangement worked out by the city and Linn County.

Others made homeless by the storm are staying in hotels or motels or have found other temporary housing while their homes are repaired.

The county-owned Fillmore Center, 520 11th St. NW, served as the overflow homeless shelter this past winter, with plans to make it a year-round facility. It can house up to 60 people.

Willis Dady Homeless Services will manage the shelter, and Waypoint Services will continue helping residents “work toward transitional housing,” said Emily Breen, the city’s development services communications coordinator.

The city will seek federal reimbursement for the cost of operating the shelter, she said.

Who’s helping

Many of those who stayed in the Red Cross shelter have been able to return home or find long-term housing, according to Josh Murray, a regional communications director for the Red Cross Iowa-Nebraska region.

Those moving to the Fillmore on Saturday, he said, were housed “precariously” even before the derecho.

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As of Thursday, he said, the Red Cross had provided 626 overnight stays in its shelters and just under 1,500 overnight stays in hotels/motels since the storm hit.

“Part of our service is setting up plans that help get residents on the road to recovery and that will continue after they transition out of the shelter,” Murray said. “We will continue to play a role in helping families and communities recover in the weeks and months ahead.”

The help, he said, could include connecting people with social services and helping them find housing or counseling, complete insurance and assistance forms, identify child-care resources and replace lost prescriptions.

The Iowa Department of Human Services, for its role in the recovery, has placed about 98 people in temporary housing, spokesman Matt Highland said.

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management secured the rooms, while the DHS organized who went to them. Thirty-two of the rooms are available until Sept. 5 and another 25 are available until Sept. 6, he said.

The Catherine McAuley Center and Intercultural Center of Iowa also are working with displaced people on housing, with referrals and with applications for assistance with food and for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

This is a transitional period, city Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt said, adding the city will continue to communicate with people who need housing.

Many Cedar Rapids residents still are contacting their insurance companies and figuring out how long it will take to rebuild their homes, Pratt said.

Living in an rv

In the meantime, the city has relaxed the rules about in-town use of recreational vehicles, allowing residents to stay in RVs temporarily.

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Residents can stay temporarily in travel trailers, motor homes and campers. They will be allowed to use recreational vehicles for temporary housing until Nov. 15 in all Cedar Rapids zoning districts. The city will consider extensions of that deadline on a case-by-case basis.

To do that, people must apply for a zoning clearance permit, available online at https://bit.ly/3jfPW2N. Residents can email completed applications to zoning@cedar-rapids.org or drop them off at the City Services Center, 500 15th Ave. SW.

“During this period, we are going to be looking at all options for how we can meet those interim needs, and we will be reaching out to our state and federal partners to get the resources we need to do that,” Pratt said.

Comments: (319) 398-8494; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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