CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – As we move on from winter and into spring, many organizations that provide assistance to homeless people are adapting their services.
The biggest change at Willis Dady in Cedar Rapids and Shelter House in Iowa City is the closure of their seasonal spaces.
So that means less space for people as we move into those spring and summer months. However, both shelters say these winter shelters allow them to connect with people and continue to help them with services as the months go by. Thus, people experiencing homelessness always have a variety of resources with which organizations can help them.
Christine Ralston, development manager of Shelter House in Iowa City, said having extra space in their winter shelter during the cold months not only provides shelter for those who need it, but allows to their street case manager to connect with those staying there and help build trust between them.
“As the winter shelter closes, he can work with them to find another place to spend the evening. Now, many people choose not to come to an emergency shelter because a shelter is a delicate environment. It’s not soothing to be in an emergency shelter. However, there are other opportunities,” Ralston said.
These opportunities may include helping people move into permanent accommodation and other services offered by Shelter House.
“Our goal is not just to house someone for a temporary period. It’s to make sure that when they leave a shelter, they move on to a housing situation,” Ralston said.
In Cedar Rapids, leaders at Willis Dady also stress the importance of making those connections during the cold months, when more and more people are seeking homeless shelters.
“During the warmer months, we will be there to meet them where they are. If they’re camping under a bridge, if they’re camping near the trail, wherever they are, we meet them, make that rapport and help house them,” said Willis Dady Support Services Manager Aaron Terrones. .
Work on a case-by-case basis to find what works best for each person.
“That relationship and respecting that autonomy and allowing the customer or guest to guide the process is key. Because at the end of the day, that’s what’s right for that person. Meeting them where they are find and help them get the housing or resources and services they need based on what works for them,” Ralston said.
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