Warming shelters, overflow shelters, where to get warm in Linn County

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — With temperatures forecasted to be down near zero throughout this week, many shelters throughout the area are opening up extra space for those who have nowhere to go.

Tyler Baxter is down on his luck. On frigid days like today, he turns to one of his favorite spots to get warm, the public library. Which is designated as a warming shelter said Waypoint Housing Executive Director, J’nae Peterman,”The library is a hot spot and I think they open at 9 am and then we have our lobby people can come get warmed up in.”

Free meals at places like Mission of Hope, the Salvation Army, and Green Square Meals also act as a free place to warm up.

Shelters like The Catholic Worker House have created extra sleeping space so no one gets left out in the cold said Housing Manager, Larissa Ruffin,”We don’t want anyone to lose any toes, fingers, we don’t want anyone to die out there. We don’t want anyone to sleep on the streets, in the parkade, anywhere at this point, it’s too cold out there”

Catholic Worker House already houses 25 people and they make room for 6 extra people during the freezing winter months. “The 2 couches, we have a couple beds out there, actually that couch behind you opens up into a bed behind you, so we have an unique array,” said Ruffin.

The biggest resource for those with no where to turn said Baxter, “Either Waypoint or the bus station. If it’s late at night and I really have no place to go, I’d go to the overflow shelter.”

The overflow shelter is supported by shelters in the area and houses 60 men from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The shelter is almost always full said Ruffin, “From the day that we open we usually have clients, it doesn’t matter what the temperature is. Once we get open, they know we’re available and they start calling every day.”

A blessing for those like Baxter, who have no where else warm to go.

According to Ruffin, police had these cards out to people in need. It has information about where to get shelter, meals, and mental health resources.

Linn County provided 47,000 and Cedar Rapids gave 22,000 to help keep the overflow shelter open all winter long. This allows the overflow shelter to stay open all winter long said Peterman, “So that we could staff it, pay the utilities and the rent, and have it open throughout the entire season. Where as previously we would have to gauge it on temperature because we couldn’t afford to keep it open all season. So it’s really nice this past two years to just have it open and individuals know that’s where they can go to get warm that night.”

The overflow shelter is always in need of donations of black trash bags. It is located at 3rd Ave and 5th Street.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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