MASON CITY, Iowa - It's an issue that can be found in virtually every community - homelessness. And our area is no exception, including in Mason City.
The Northern Lights Men's Shelter and the New Beginnings House of Hope are both experiencing an increase in people coming to find refuge from the cold. But because of capacity limits, there's been a growing need for a warming shelter.
Mike Armijo has recently found a permanent place to live, but for about three years, he moved around to different shelters, including Northern Lights.
"I see that there's a struggle. It's a big a struggle just to keep warm."
He knows what it's like when facing the elements, not just in the winter, but also year round.
"In Salem, in Oregon, it rains a lot, and it's cold rain, and they do have their winter time. But people survive, and people make it, and there are people that don't make it. They freeze."
Robi Meyer has found permanent housing as well, but also moved around to different shelters.
"You don't know it so much until the winter time. And that's when you start to notice it."
While they're not allowed to have extra people to bunk with them due to housing and guest restrictions, Armijo and Meyer would be willing to lend a helping hand.
"Whatever it takes to keep people off the street, anything we can do to help, let's try to do the best we can."
Jeannie Kingery with the Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless, which owns and operates both Northern Lights and New Beginnings, says that they've been talking about opening a warming shelter, though location, staffing and financing are challenges to the plan.
The Salvation Army of Mason City has tried to open a warming shelter in the past, but little to no occupancy lead to the end of it. However, they will reopen it if requested by the Cerro Gordo Co. Emergency Management Agency. In addition, the agency also works with churches and other interested parties about opening warming shelters.