Central Iowa Shelter looks towards expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Extremely cold weather has forced Central Iowa Shelter and Services to operate at or beyond capacity for all of 2019 so far.

CISS Chief Executive Officer Melissa O’Neil said on Monday they had 234 people stay the night as they continue operating under weather amnesty.

But when everybody is allowed in to escape life-threatening temperatures, the 150 beds the shelter has right now fill up quickly.

O’Neil said many of those people that don’t get a bed or a chair often have to sit at a cafeteria table to sleep. The Homeless Coordinating Council is trying look at options to solve that problem in the future.

Polk County Board of Supervisors Matt McCoy said the council is looking into acquiring a “flex space” that would be used during dangerous weather.

“That would actually be space that primarily isn’t open but could be open with beds and cots and bedding and blankets and showers. And provide an opportunity to get people in and out of the cold. That would be something I think that would be more of a long range goal,” McCoy said.

Some of the ideas they’ve come up with is to possibly use old department stores that have been abandoned.

WHO Channel 13 also reports a plan moving forward to build 24 apartments next to the shelter that would be for the chronically homeless.

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