Homeless having hard time getting out of cold, shelters full - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Homeless having hard time getting out of cold, shelters full


Eastern Iowa homeless shelters say they've been full for months.  Now, with sub-freezing temperatures here to stay for the next few months, some are having a tough time finding a place to spend the night.

"It doesn't bother me seeing the people that come in every day because they have a bed," said Rod Carlson, Operations Assistant at Cedar House Shelter.  "It's the people that call every day and that I have to turn away because we have no beds."

It's been 2013 for less than a week and already Cedar House Emergency Shelter in Cedar Rapids has had to turn away 10 people this year.

"There seems to be more and more people homeless than when we first opened 12 years ago," said Raymond Krug, Operations Director.

The shelter has room for 16 people at a time.  Those beds have been full since last summer.

Other local shelters report similar statistics.  They've been full for months.

"There's a real need out there and it's because of the heat wave that we had last summer and then now going into the cold," said Carlson.

During extreme weather, Cedar House can take up to five more people in overflow and those beds are often filled as well.

"Our city is filled with people that have no home," said Krug.  "They have no place to go. Some are sleeping in places that are not designated for sleeping, like in cars."

The problem is bigger than Cedar Rapids. Each January the Iowa Balance of State Continuum of Care hosts a homeless count. The 2013 count hasn't happened yet but last year's found 1,803 people without a home in just one night. That was up 49 people from 2011.

"This isn't a problem that's going away," said Carlson.

At Cedar House,directors say on nights when they're full, they work with other area shelters to find homeless people a place to spend the night.

The phone number for the shelter is 319-364-2630.

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