Iowa City agencies extend help to area homeless

Several slept in City Hall, motel rooms provided by charity

Mark Carlson
Published: January 7 2014 | 4:09 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:46 am in

A homeless couple who spent the night Sunday under an Iowa City bridge said the experience was “difficult.”

Michael Daniels and his wife Bonnie Brookhart said they had to deal with persistent winds, which continually sent their blankets flying.

“Every-half hour the wind was blowing our blankets off,” Daniels said. “We didn’t get much sleep and it was cold.”

The couple said they opted to stay outside because they felt the local shelter, Shelter House, was “too full.”

Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House, said the shelter provided warmth to nearly 80 people Sunday and Monday, pushing them over capacity.

“We were not turning anyone away,” Canganelli said. “There was still room available in the lobby area.”

Monday night, Daniels and Brookhart were granted relief when police worked with a local church to help them find shelter at a local motel.

“The church is going to pay for it,” said Lt. Mike Brotherton of the Iowa City Police Department. “Good News Bible Church, coming through.”

Daniels, 52, estimated between 25 to 30 people in the Iowa City area slept outside in the dangerous cold Sunday. The wind chill dipped to minus 40 degrees early Monday morning.

“There’s people up in age, around my age or a little older, they just don’t care anymore,” Daniels said. “I’m not a spring chicken, I can’t keep doing this.”

Daniels said he’s working to better his life by searching for permanent employment, while Brookhart said a seizure disorder prevents her from working. They’ve been homeless for about six months.

Brotherton said Monday, several homeless people slept inside the Iowa City Hall building near downtown.

One man slept under the main reception desk, another slept on a bench outside a conference room and a third slept in a hallway to other offices.

“It’s public,” Brotherton said of the makeshift dorm, located just down the hall from the police department.

Brotherton said anytime it gets cold, homeless people seek shelter inside the building. The lobby area is open 24 hours to allow access to the police department’s front desk.

“The cold has people talking about this issue again, and that’s good,” Brotherton said.

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