An advocate for homeless people in southwest Iowa hopes a shelter that’s scheduled to open in Council Bluffs next month will prevent more senseless killings. A homeless man died earlier this week after being beaten in Council Bluffs. Pastor Harry Waller is the founder of the New Visions Center, which is building the shelter.
Waller says it’ll be a 40-bed mens’ shelter and a 26-bed transitional living unit for single men and single women, where they can stay for 18 to 24 months. He says they’ll also be able to feed up to 250 people at a time. The man who was killed, Jeff Harriman, was found badly beaten on July 18th. He was taken off of life support on Tuesday and died.
Two other transients are charged in his death. Waller says the new shelter can provide a haven — and hope — for people who are homeless. "The reality of the issue is, we may not be able to prevent all of these situtations like we’ve had, but I sure certainly would think we would have a tremendous impact," he says. The need for a homeless shelter in Council Bluffs, according to Waller, has never been more apparent.
He says, "Their subculture is one of alcohol abuse, drug abuse and violence and there’s no way to interrupt it without having a facility like New Visions that can certainly interrupt that cycle and get them the help that they need." Waller has been working on establishing the shelter for 15 years and says when it opens in August, it will provide opportunities to homeless people they don’t have right now.