Homeless needs rise as temperatures drop - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Homeless needs rise as temperatures drop

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The frigid temperatures are dangerous enough when simply walking from your front door to your car. Now imagine having to be outside for extended periods of time in the same weather.

That's the case for nearly 18,000 people in our state, who don't have a warm home to go to on a regular basis.

Eastern Iowa homeless shelters expect to see more people walk in their doors, as temperatures drop to the single digits. Coordinators say this is the time of year when having a warm place to stay is especially vital for those less fortunate.

"Our program provides food and hospitality," said Mary Palmberg, with the Iowa City Free Lunch Program. She serves as many as 150 people a day, many of whom don't have a permanent residence.

"They bring in their bedrolls in the morning, when they come to get their coffee." But she says they don't interview their customers or ask about their situation. "Our motto is: an open door, a full plate, no questions asked."

Shelter House of Iowa City has been dealing with space shortages by working with area churches. They take in as many as 160 people every night when the main facility fills up.

Linn County is also seeing a rise in need. They recorded over 4,500 cases of service to the homeless in fiscal year 2008, up by nearly 300 from the year before. They say the June flood and poor economy are contributing factors.

If you have any unused winter clothing, area shelters say now is the time to donate it. They're also looking for volunteers, who are in short supply during the winter season.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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