Homeless charity prepared for cold weather - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Homeless charity prepared for cold weather


Dusty Bengston is a volunteer at the Hospitality House in Waterloo.

The House provides meals to the homeless, among other necessary supplies, like sleeping bags and warm socks.

Bengston said these resources become even more important as the weather gets colder.

"It's kind of sad, a lot of people don't realize how many homeless people there are in the Cedar Valley," Bengston said.

Options are scarce for the homeless.

"It's so limited, our sources for the homeless are so incredibly limited, we've got to send them someplace," said Waterloo Director of Safety Services Dan Trelka.

But in recent months, the Hospitality House Executive Director Joni Hansen has been charged with stealing more than $42,000 from the house.

Police say she withdrew the money at the Isle Casino in Waterloo.

She's scheduled for a jury trial in late November, and we asked Bengston how that will affect services they provide.

He can't comment on the case, but he said the work they do is critical.

"Homeless people need help no matter what's going on," he said. "And that's all I'm going to say about it."

And he's living proof that the Hospitality House can help -- he used to be homeless himself.

"I just think that without the Hospitality House, I wouldn't have made it out."

Now works and has his own place. He says the house helped change his life.

"I just think that people need to realize how much places like this help people that are in a homeless situation," he said.

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