Metro Shelters Working to Give Warmth to Homeless People and Animals

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A winter weather plan is in place for Central Iowa Shelter Services.

The goal: help get homeless people--and animals--off the freezing streets and into warm shelters. The winter weather has some members of our homeless population scrambling.

“Trying to get as many blankets as we can, my tent's falling down because of the wind and the city is kicking us out January 1st so we'll have to take it down tomorrow,” said Iowan Heather C.

A city ordinance is forcing people staying in tents to move from behind the CISS location in downtown Des Moines. According to the Iowa Finance Authority, Heather is among 20,000 others statewide who have no place to go. Heather has been living just behind the Central Iowa Shelter and Services building for months.

“I know people have problems with drugs and alcohol...but people are going to die out here," Heather said.

This is why CISS wants to give the homeless a warm place to stay. However, they need help, as space and resources are running low.

"Reach out. That sleeping bag that you haven't used in a long time or that tent that's got tarps that flow over the sides of it to help keep people warm, let's dig deep as a community," said Melisa O'Neil, CEO of CISS.

O’Neil said some homeless don't want to come inside out of fear of losing their belongings.

Not only does the human homeless population in the metro need extra help during the winter time, but homeless animals do, as well. A kitten named Blue was found abandoned inside a warehouse. She almost died, but a passerby saved her life.

“In the city of Des Moines there is Animal Care and Control, that could be the first call if you see an animal who's maybe a stray wandering around," said ," communications director for Animal Lifeline Shelter Stacie Leinen.

Blue is now safe, and the shelter urges people to be vigilant.

“Your own pets, you know, bring them inside. If you're uncomfortable outside, they're uncomfortable outside," Leinen said.

Whether it’s a pet or a person living outside, there are resources to help escape frigid temperatures.

Click here for more information on how to help the Central Iowa Shelter and Services, and here to help The Animal Lifeline Shelter.