Iowa City replaces benches in consideration of homeless

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Officials in eastern Iowa have decided to spend more than $10,000 on new public benches that don’t have center armrests after an extended debate about whether benches installed earlier were hostile to homeless people.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the Iowa City Council has decided to replace 14 benches in a downtown pedestrian mall with seating that doesn’t include center armrests.

Nichole Novak is an organizer with Iowa City Catholic Worker House, a shelter that led the effort to change the benches. She says the idea is to make “a public space that is welcoming to all.”

Cady Gerlach is the director of strategic operations and resource management of Shelter House. She says the money for the benches could’ve been better spent in other ways to help the homeless.

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