A shelter for homeless families with children will open in Linn Co.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – A shelter that will help homeless parents and their children has been completed in Linn County. Family Promise of Linn County is behind the shelter that was built in the basement of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids.

“It was a change from the ground up,” said Nic Hartmann, executive director of Family Promise of Linn County.

The nonprofit reports that more than 900 school-aged children are considered homeless just in the Cedar Rapids subway, and the reasons aren’t always what people think.

“In reality, these are working people. These are people who have been through a lot of the same things as street people,” Hartmann said.

The Linn County Family Promise helped over 200 families struggling or at risk of homelessness last year alone, which spanned 6 counties and grew 186% over the previous year.

“It’s really amazing and it really makes you think there’s a lot of need. And we are so grateful and so lucky to have organizations like Family Promise caring for these families,” said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly.

“It just underscores the idea that homelessness knows no bounds in the city. This is a Linn County project,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell added.

What was a construction site last fall, is now a shower room and more. There is a laundry area and a kitchen so families can access necessities in one place.

“It’s a dream come true, I mean it took two years to make it happen,” said Ritva Williams, pastor at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.

Between two rooms inside the church and a neighboring house, three families will be able to shelter at the same time.

“The idea that we are a home for the homeless is right, it’s a beautiful mission, it’s what Jesus called us to do,” Pastor Williams said.

The space will begin welcoming families in April, who will have access to case management services to help them recover during their stay.

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