Some homeless in Waterloo seek out abandoned buildings for shelt - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Some homeless in Waterloo seek out abandoned buildings for shelter

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(KWWL) -

As the weather cools down, some homeless people in the area are migrating into a large number of abandoned buildings for temporary cover.  But those buildings can pose serious safety hazards, and for some homeless in the area, there's a growing concern. 

Last Friday, Waterloo firefighters put out a fire at the abandoned building in the 900 block of Commercial Street. The 110-year-old building is supposed to be abandoned, but crews rescued a homeless man from a second story window. Chad Bruce was arrested after being pulled from the burning building.

On Monday, fire crews put out a fire at another building at the corner of Elm and Mulberry. Police say no one lives in the house, but fire crews on scene say they believe someone who's homeless might have been in the home.

In both fires, nobody was injured. Now the concern is for the homeless who choose to seek out these abandoned buildings that are hazard zones. 

Chad Bruce was rescued from the fire in the 900 block of Commercial Street. The abandoned building used to be his only place to stay. 

But after he was rescued from the fire, he was arrested and later charged with trespassing. Now, he's homeless again.

Bruce says he's choosing not to go turn to a homeless shelter. 

"People might think we're lazy, but I don't deal well with people," said Bruce.

Bruce and his friend Linda Mulder have been homeless in Waterloo for a few months.

"I'm fighting depression and anxiety issues," said Mulder. "I'm on different medications. I was just in the hospital last week, and I got to go in a couple weeks yet again."

Even though they both have the option to stay at a homeless shelter, they say they are choosing not to. 

There are a number of homeless shelters in the area, including the Salvation Army's men and women's shelter. 

The Salvation Army say's they're willing to help, but the homeless have to be willing to work away from homelessness as well. 

"We do have rules here, we have to," said Social Ministries Coordinator Grace Fee. "They're pretty basic, be nice to others, do your chores. Obey quiet times, and follow your care plans, but we do have rules in place and some people just don't care for that."

The Salvation Army offers both short term housing for those who need immediate emergency shelter, and also long term transitional housing, a six to eight week program to help the homeless get back on their feet. 

But for both Bruce and Mulder, they say they've chosen to not seek help.

"I've never really been homeless before, more or less, pride is a hard thing to swallow at times." said Mulder. 

"It's gonna be too cold for abandoned buildings you know," said Bruce. "I don't know what I'll do, but something will happen you know."

In addition to the Salvation Army, there's also the Catholic Workers Home, but they only offer what they call emergency shelter for up to ten days. 

The Salvation Army has started their Red Kettle campaign, taking donations to help the homeless. 

For more information on the Red Kettle campaign, visit

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