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Iowa City's temporary homeless shelter closing

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - It looks like abandoned old grocery store but inside there are cots and blankets. A former Aldi store in Iowa City has been serving as a temporary homeless shelter for winter.

Unlike Shelter House nearby, people who've been drinking are allowed at the temporary shelter. It helps make sure everyone has shelter from the bitter cold.

"Our goal with this whole project was to really minimize the issues people could have due to exposure, including frostbite and including death too," said Mark Sertterh, Resident Services Director at Shelter House.

From that perspective, it's been successful.

"A lot less incidents of anything like that happening this year than I have ever heard in the past," said Sertterh.

When plans for the shelter first came out, some local business owners expressed concerns. We checked in with them again to see how they thought things went these past few months.

"No problems at all," said Paul Young, Owner of Sweet Livin' Antiques.

The shop is across the street from the temporary shelter. While he hasn't had problems, in the future Young like there be more transparency when it comes to new homeless shelters, especially what he calls "wet" shelters, that allow intoxicated people.

"I think there's other businesses in town, not in this area, that would not like a wet shelter next to them," said Young. "Particularly downtown. So I think it's a pretty thorny issue."

Now that the weather is warmer, this shelter is closing. Saturday is the last night for people to stay there. It closes 8 a.m. Sunday.

People who helped it happen say they'd like to do something similar next year if they can find the right location.

Officials with Shelter House say many of the people who've stayed at the temporary shelter are now going through programs at Shelter House.
Some have already found permanent housing.

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