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Emergency winter shelter rushes to reopen ahead of winter storm

KWWL | VIDEO After closing for the season, area shelters are rushing to reopen overnight winter shelters ahead of the snow storm. At 821 S. Clinton St. in Iowa City, the old white brick and battered building may not look like much from the outside but on the inside it was the difference between sleeping somewhere warm versus outside on a cold winter’s night.

Over the winter, over 140 different people were able to lay their head down at Shelter House’s low-barrier winter emergency shelter. It’s a temporary space the shelter uses during the winter but with the start of spring, the shelter closed for the season on Monday morning.

“We actually ran a 15-week season which I thought was really good but turns out it fell a little short,” Crissy Canganelli, Shelter House Executive Director, said. The 15 week season was two weeks longer than past seasons, too.

With a winter storm in sight, Shelter House scrambled to reopen its doors just in time on Friday night.

“We just wanted to make sure that people had a safe, warm place to go. There’s no way to be able to call the weather at this time of the year. It’s just the right thing to do,” Canganelli said.

Canganelli said calls went out to staff to fill shelter shifts. She said she believed this was the latest they’ve ever had one of their winter shelters opened. The Johnson County supervisors had leased the building through the end of March.

“We haven’t necessarily had that flexibility in the past with the spaces that have been donated to us. Since we still had the ability to access the building that allowed us to get in there so quickly,” she said.

On top of reopening the shelter, the Shelter House will also be extending their services for people in need.

“We’ve now reopened the lobby and we’ll have overflow here at Shelter House over the weekend as well and we’ll be staying open during the day, as well,” Canganelli said.


By Jalyn Souchek, Reporter | Posted: Mar 23, 2018 8:11 PM CDT | Updated: Mar 23, 2018 8:42 PM CDT