Finding refuge from the cold

Increase in people coming to Mason City shelters leading to discussion of opening warming shelter

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 9:51 PM

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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22947

Reported Deaths: 977
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7695581
Ramsey2698110
Stearns199512
Nobles14963
Anoka128963
Dakota120249
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Washington57630
Kandiyohi4761
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Todd2960
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Carver1892
Benton1733
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Blue Earth1261
Martin1265
St. Louis11714
Freeborn1020
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Winona7815
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Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Grant30
Houston20
Roseau20
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18559

Reported Deaths: 506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3930118
Woodbury267232
Black Hawk172443
Linn94176
Marshall88215
Dallas87517
Buena Vista7020
Johnson6078
Muscatine54941
Wapello5456
Crawford4892
Tama40026
Scott35210
Louisa34210
Dubuque33418
Jasper25816
Pottawattamie2348
Sioux2130
Washington1858
Wright1450
Allamakee1204
Plymouth1191
Warren1160
Story991
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Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines591
Boone570
Taylor490
Guthrie463
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Benton391
Monroe385
Jones360
Iowa350
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Buchanan320
Webster321
Marion310
Hamilton290
Madison271
Fayette260
Cerro Gordo251
Monona240
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Winneshiek230
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Sac170
Dickinson160
Mills160
Hardin160
Hancock160
Humboldt150
Butler150
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Greene130
Clay130
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Jackson110
Page110
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