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Out of the Cold

Out of the Cold, December 2018 – March 2019

Thanks to the generosity of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, a building which was previously used by the county will once again be used as the satellite site for the 2018 – 2019 winter shelter. Additional thanks to the City of Iowa City, City of Coralville, and Iowa City Police Department for their continued, altruistic support in our efforts as well as the greater Iowa City community for their financial contributions which support our extensive winter outreach.

When Iowa’s frigid winter blows in, being outside isn’t just uncomfortable – it can be hazardous. As temperatures drop, people left with nowhere but the street to turn are desperate for warmth, safety, and protection from developing exposure-related conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite which can permanently damage one’s health and can ultimately result in the loss of life.

In response to this amplified need, Shelter House piloted the Corridor’s first low-barrier winter shelter in January 2015 with a simple yet profound intention that anyone experiencing homelessness, no matter their circumstance, would be kept out of the cold.

We are again operating a satellite low-barrier Winter Emergency Shelter at 821 S. Clinton St., Iowa City intended for people for whom homelessness has become a chronic condition removing sobriety and other requirements often experienced as barriers. In addition, we increased our bed capacity at the Southgate building from 70 to 90 throughout the winter to ensure no one is turned away into the freezing night air. For the past five winters, and as a direct result of these services, vagrancy calls to the police and emergency room usage have decreased; no one has died on our streets from exposure.

Out of the Cold funds our extensive outreach and combined efforts during the winter. We are only able to provide this much-needed programming with the support and generosity of our community. This winter, our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Out of the Cold campaign through your donations which allow us to cover the range of programs and supports that keeps people out of the winter cold. Together, with your support, we can provide security and hope to people experiencing homelessness in our neighborhoods!

In addition to financial contributions, visit our Greatest Needs page for a current list of items needed during the winter months.

Interested in volunteering at the winter shelter?
Complete the online Volunteer Application Form here and we’ll be in touch with you soon!

Read about our winter programs and hear from a guest of our low-barrier winter emergency shelter below. 

Nov 2018 | Press-Citizen | Iowa City Shelter House to increase capacity in extreme, cold weather

“Having a warm place to sleep is essential for everyone and the winter shelter addresses that need. Previous years have shown a 60-70% reduction in vagrancy calls during the times the low barrier shelter is operating. By reducing the amount of time individuals are exposed to the elements, the need for medical aid is also reduced.”
Jody Matherly, Chief of Police, ICPD


I stayed there (the Winter Shelter) every night last year—it makes a person feel better about themselves. It’s a place to get warm and get out of the cold. It makes your spirit better I guess, because in the winter it’s so cold, but when you go in there it kind of cheers you up a little bit.
Former winter emergency shelter guest
I’ve lived in a tent before and used a candle to heat my tent. I wake up and there’s frost on the side of the tent from the cold night. Then you’ve got to get out of your tent the next day and all you’ve got to do is walk … just to stay warm.
Former winter emergency shelter guest