The 24-unit building is thought to be the first in the state to use the “housing first” model. The idea is — it’s cheaper and more effective to give homeless people housing without conditions like employment or sobriety.
Crissy Canganelli heads Shelter House, which is building the development. “The stability and the security of your own home, having that foundation to work off of is such a stabilizing element that the impact in all areas of a person’s life, it’s profound,” she says. The units are meant to stop the cycle between emergency rooms, temporary shelters and jails.
Canganelli says the cost of services for a chronically-homeless person averages $140,000 per year in Iowa City. “All for them to not really move forward in their lives, but to continue through this cycle, a crisis-driven cycle, no particular order, and each time ending up back on the streets of our community, sicker than the time before,” she says. Canganelli figures that money is better used getting people into a home.
The development, called Cross Park Place, is slated to open by the end of this year. There will be 24 one-bedroom apartments, complete with kitchens, as well as an in-house clinic and voluntary support programs, like case managers and behavioral health counselors.
(By Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)