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Keokuk considering permit to allow homeless shelters


The Keokuk city council is considering a special use permit so homeless shelters may open in town.

City Administrator Cole O’Donnell said these shelters are not technically allowed to operate anywhere in the city as of now, but several organizations have approached the city about opening places where the area’s homeless can find temporary shelter.

“There have been a couple locations that have been discussed, but because they didn't meet the zoning or that because we didn't have the special use available, that's what brought through ordinance forward,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said the city is considering an R-4 permit classification because it would let homeless shelters operate where multiple family housing is allowed.

The permit would be acquired through the city’s zoning board.

“It gives neighbors an opportunity to voice their opinion on the location of the shelter,” O’Donnell said.

The council is still discussing the proposed special use permit designation.

Council member at-large John Helenthal said he supports the ordinance, but he is not convinced legalizing homeless shelters will motivate the city’s homeless to find permanent housing.

“I’d like to see it succeed,” Helenthal said. “I hope it works out.”

The council is expected to continue discussing the proposed ordinance at its next meeting on Aug. 4.

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