Nine months into the pandemic and many Iowa families are still being pushed into homelessness.

Waypoint Services, a Cedar Rapids-based provider, is seeing the need grow sharply among Iowans who never experienced homelessness before.

Housing services director J’nae Peterman says area shelters and other providers are also struggling to meet the demand for rent assistance and transitional housing. “Within a month-and-a-half time period, we served the number of people that we typically serve in a full year,” Peterman says. “That’s typically around 3,000 people and that’s what we’re seeing in less than two months.”

Some families were able to avoid homelessness by continuing to live in buildings that were damaged by the derecho in August, but winter weather is forcing some of them out.   “People were living in their units as long as they can but as it gets colder, they can’t keep them warm and they do need to leave, unfortunately,” Peterman says. “Shelters are completely at their max capacity and doing the best that they can.”

People facing homelessness or eviction anywhere in Iowa can call Waypoint’s hotline at 1-833-739-0065 or get free legal advice from Iowa Legal Aid at iowalegalaid.org.

(By Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)