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      Homelessness in Lee County

      Emma Cornelius Hospitality House in Fort Madison / Photo by: Chad Douglas

      The Lee County Sheriff's Department has served 41 evictions this year alone.

      A hospitality house in Fort Madison served 300 men women and children last year.

      So far this year, it's served 160 people.

      If the trend continues, this year's numbers will be close to 300 again.

      Now some agencies want to try and nip the problem in the bud.

      Every other month, a group of non profits, government agencies, and charities meet to address the needs of Lee County.

      Tuesday they met about the changing face of homelessness in Lee County.

      This is the Emma Cornelius Hospitality House. It's a place a homeless person can go for a short time to try and get back on their feet.

      "Some of them go back and stay with relatives or they move on. Some are transients and some find jobs," says Board President Joe Kowzan.

      Unfortunately, the Hospitality House doesn't have the resources to do follow ups on its clients. Even though a person staying here might find a job, that doesn't mean they immediately get back on their feet.

      "It takes people awhile after they attain employment to build up a first down payment. There is a real gap in transitional housing in our area," says Connie Storms, the Director of the Fort Madison Area United Way.

      Now there's talk of putting together a group to look for funding for transitional housing. There are also agencies that will help with budgeting, there's an agency that will help pay with winter heating bills. The problem, there's no one stop shop for people to get all of the information they need. People can start with the Fort Madison Area United Way, Community Action, or a local shelter as a springboard for help

      Connie Storms with the Fort Madison Area United Way says she believes there's been a slight increase in the number of homeless people because of unemployment.

      She also says agencies that try to prevent homeless ness have seen a large demand for their services.

      That's why the inter-agencies used their bi-monthly meeting to focus on homelessness.