The cold snap is prompting some homeless shelters in Iowa to remain open around the clock. A few shelters close during the day to reduce staffing demands and encourage residents to look for employment. But David Rainey, director of the Salvation Army’s three shelters in Waterloo, says when it’s this cold, they keep the doors open all hours of the day.
Rainey says their beds have been full for months, so they haven’t noticed any increase demand due of the weather. “The trend the last three to four months is that our shelter has been running full because of the economy,” he says. “So it’s not so much the weather, it’s just people are out of work and with no job or no income they can’t make rent payments or housing notes or things of that nature.”
All 90 beds at the Micah House emergency shelter in Council Bluffs are occupied and there’s a waiting list. Bobbie Nielsen, the shelter’s program director, says they have a need for winter supplies for the residents. “During the cold weather, there’s an increased need for coats and hats and mittens and boots — the winter clothing,” Nielsen says. “…People still need to get out and do things and often they walk.”
Bethel Missions in Des Moines plans to put sleeping mats in the showers if they run out of beds this evening. David Burrier, community relations officer for Hope Ministries in Des Moines, says the frigid temperatures raise the public’s awareness about homelessness. “I was just here at our emergency shelter and had a lady walk in with a pan of food and another lady dropped off two brand new men’s coats and another person came in and wrote out a check,” he says.
“And so it’s a tough time, but we’ll get through it and anybody that comes in here, we’ll put our arms around them and say, ‘You are in a good, clean and safe place. Let us help you out.'” Burrier says food and clothing are always welcome, but cash is the biggest help.