Central Iowa Shelter and Services says they set an attendance record during a recent cold snap.
"We had the highest number in our building that we had ever seen in the history of CISS," said Tommy Ross, director of community engagement. He says they expect the number to continue to rise. "We are geared up, it's an opportunity for us serve," he said, "generosity in the community is always amazing, but we're definitely seeing a spike in numbers."
According to the Institute for Community Alliances website, Polk County has the largest homeless population in the state, and is showing an increase in 2023.
Vice President of Advancement with Central Iowa Shelter and Services, Alie Muller-Heit, told WHO Radio in a November interview that there has been an increase in food insecurity. "We see a lot of individuals who are struggling with food scarcity in downtown Des Moines coming in and being able to feed their family because we have the food pantry down on Mulberry Street," she said. She says the shelter offers a clothing closet and food pantry to anyone who is in need in the area.
Besides oncoming cold weather, Ross says the increase in need is also being attributed to economic uncertainty. Rising rents and mortgages is a key example. "If those things rise, and those numbers spike, then essentially what that does is it displaces folks who are struggling right there on that line of just trying to make ends meet."
Those who need services, or those who want to volunteer or help out with the homeless cause in Central Iowa can visit the Central Iowa Shelter and Services website.