Fall Bus Tour Highlights Viva East Bank!

Showcasing efforts to revitalize the East Side

Fall Bus Tour Highlights Viva East Bank!

For its ninth bus tour, Polk County Housing Trust Fund joined with Viva East Bank! to present a look at housing on the east side of Des Moines. A full bus of over 50 riders learned about VEB’s efforts to improve quality of life in three neighborhoods on the east side of Des Moines: Capitol Park, MLK Jr. Park, and Capitol East. 

Though the VEB process began only last year, many projects have already been completed. City of Des Moines Neighborhood Planner Amber Lynch guided the tour through a diverse mix of housing and beautification projects that aim to make the East Bank a better place to work, live, and play.

Riders saw the results of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity’s Rock the Block efforts in Capitol East and MLK Jr. Park, and even had the opportunity to tour a newly rehabbed home before its dedication the following weekend. Habitat Executive Director Lance Henning and Rock the Block Director Les Stohs introduced Beverly, who was proud to show off her newly sided bright blue home.

Kimberly Hansen of Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines was proud to show the results of their Rebuilding Day with employees of Meredith Corporation, including several home repairs, a traffic circle garden, a playground, and improvements to a community garden. Pam Carmichael from HOME, Inc. and Stephanie Preusch from Neighborhood Finance Corporation rode with us as well to show their organizations’ housing rehabilitation and new construction work in these three neighborhoods.

One speaker also set in motion a series of events that will change the lives of dozens of East Siders. When Amos Hiatt Middle School Principal Debbie Chapman got on the bus to talk about their work on VEB’s youth initiatives, she shared the stories of students whose families could not even afford beds for them to sleep in. A few days later, when Des Moines City Councilwoman Christine Hensley learned that a Comfort Suites in Urbandale was remodeling, she wondered if they might have any extra beds. She reached out to Michael Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, who generously offered to provide 60 of the hotel’s double beds for these needy students, along with some tables, chairs, and a sleeper sofa. Now the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa and Hiatt Middle School will help match the furniture with students in need, and Meredith Corporation has volunteered to store and deliver the items until that time.

This remarkable effort is hopefully only the beginning of our riders’ involvement in the many efforts led by Viva East Bank and its diverse group of community partners.

If you couldn’t make it to the tour, click HERE to see the full itinerary, including an overview of Viva East Bank and pictures of highlighted housing-related projects in the area. Keep reading our monthly eNewsletter to receive more details about our next tour in April over the coming months – we hope to see you there!