A committee formed last week in Cedar Rapids will look at how to handle people who show up at homeless shelters intoxicated, and whether there should be a “wet shelter” that will take those who are turned away from other places that offer a place for the night. A man turned away after he showed up drunk at a local shelter one night this month was found dead the next morning.
Captain Dawn Hayman of the Salvation Army says leaders of social welfare groups, government and other agencies agreed it’s a problem they have to tackle. They got together to try and form a plan and talk about the community’s concerns over people who have substance abuse or other “extreme issues” and find themselves homeless.
The issue was highlighted just days ago by the death of the man turned away from a shelter where he’d been living because he showed up intoxicated. She says there are a good reason for rules that clients won’t be allowed into shelters if they’re drunk or high. The shelters have to provide “a reasonable amount of safety” for their staff and volunteers as well as the other people who are staying in the shelter.
They also have to come up with policies and programs that will help the people who show up in “extreme circumstances,” and many of the agencies think this could be the opportunity they’ve wanted for some time to create some new programs in Cedar Rapids. She says that could include working with police and hospitals to handle people with substance abuse programs who can’t fit in to the existing system.