Government

'Warming centers' being opened for now in absence of winter shelter in Cedar Rapids

The Fillmore Center in Cedar Rapids will serve as a winter shelter in Cedar Rapids this year, but the opening date still is up in the air. In the meantime, “warming centers” in the city will allow people to get out of the cold and stay warm. They are not shelters, however, and do not have bed or cots. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
The Fillmore Center in Cedar Rapids will serve as a winter shelter in Cedar Rapids this year, but the opening date still is up in the air. In the meantime, “warming centers” in the city will allow people to get out of the cold and stay warm. They are not shelters, however, and do not have bed or cots. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One-night-only “warming centers” are being piecemealed together in Cedar Rapids as emergency relief for those without homes as frigid temperatures take hold earlier than expected and a permanent winter shelter is not yet ready.

On Monday night, First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids took in 25 people — no questions asked, said Phoebe Trepp, executive director of Willis Dady Homeless Services and a member of the community shelter and wellness committee of the Linn County Continuum of Care, which oversees the winter overflow shelter.

Veritas Church, 509 Third St. SE, was set to open overnight Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., she said.

“There’s no limits on numbers,” Trepp said. “Whoever can come in and stay warm.”

Trepp noted these are not shelters — so no cots or beds are available. It is simply a place to get out of the cold, stay warm and have access to restrooms, she said.

People need not register, just show up.

Requests have gone out to other potential locations for later in the week when cold temperatures are expected to continue with lows in the teens and 20s. But those locations have not yet been confirmed yet.

A permanent winter shelter is planned for the Linn County-owned Fillmore Center, 520 11th St. NW. But first, the current occupant — a child and youth development center — must relocate to the new Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building.

The move is expected this week. Trepp said organizers anticipate opening it as a shelter sooner than the previous target, which had been the end of next week, but a date still is up in the air.

The space needs to be prepped from classrooms to a shelter, she noted.

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During the day, those in need can find a place to warm up at one of the public libraries, the downtown Ground Transporation Center or, the city said, Lindale Mall during mall hours.

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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