Our Housing Partners "Get it Done"

Our Housing Partners "Get it Done"

Our Housing Partner Providers “Get it Done”

The Polk County Housing Trust Fund is known as the “Housing Authority” in Central Iowa and part of the reason we have had success with being the “housing authority” is our ability to engage the community to work on housing issues and come together to solve problems as partners.

It was recently reported that in the Des Moines metro there are 40 units for every 100 families needing it.  This figure traveled around the world --- evenThe Guardian, a British daily newspaper proclaimed, “The number of low income families unable to find or be placed in affordable housing in Des Moines is a growing problem.  In fact, it’s even worse than in Brooklyn, New York.”  This is where the Iowa, “Get It Done” attitude comes in to play.

A constant in the Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s 24-year history is the principle that safe, secure housing is the foundation for a vibrant community, healthy people, educational success and economic opportunity.  Families who enjoy stable housing tend to be more productive and valuable members of a steady workforce and a steady workforce is crucial to a strong economy which benefits everyone.  Out of this philosophy arose the Stable Steady Strong theme for the annual Campaign which raises private dollars from foundations and businesses to provide programs and services to combat barriers to housing.

The programs provided from these funds and through our partners create pathways to long-term housing through financial stability efforts in a variety of areas including financial education, case management, workforce preparation, job placement and advancement.  Ultimately, they prepare workers to meet the needs of the workplace and workforce of today and tomorrow by providing stability in workers’ lives.

  • Blueprint to Homeownership, operated by Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, equips families for homeownership.  The households are instructed in issues of home maintenance and repair, financial responsibility and required to donate their “sweat equity” for the construction of Habitat Homes.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing, operated by Central Iowa Shelter & Services, assist residents of its 38-bed permanent housing facility in adjusting to permanent housing from homelessness.
  • Home Connection, operated by Hawthorn Hill, increases formerly homeless families’ self-sufficiency through financial education, credit repair and employment counseling.
  • Shelter + Care, operated by Anawim Housing, ensures that those experiencing housing crisis and who have a dual diagnosis of mental illness, substance use disorder, medically fragile and/or HIV/AIDS, set and obtain goals specific to educational and vocational opportunities.
  • The Adult & Family Program, operated by the Oakridge Neighborhood, offers cultural and language skills, employment readiness and basic education for their residents, many of whom are new to Iowa and the United States.
  • Hope for Stable Families, managed by HOME Inc, assists families who have experienced a financial bump in the road – a loss of a job, an illness, a large unexpected expense – improve their financial health.
  • Community Stabilization Project, together overseen by HOME Inc and Iowa Legal Aid, help renters in low-income neighborhoods from facing eviction through enhanced services.
  • Housing Navigator, directed by Primary Health Care, connects people at risk of homelessness to area landlords followed by case management services for three months after housing.
  • The Tenant Fund, also managed by Primary Health Care, is used through Centralized Intake to help offset financial barriers to permanent housing.
  • The GDM YMCA’s Supportive Housing Campus helps people who are homeless or at risk of being so with the supportive service education programs that lead to self-sufficiency.

Our region’s housing providers work hard to make sure programs meet rigorous outcomes and performance measures.  We are pleased with the return on investment with results of these programs.  The PCHTF and our partners are reminded regularly that strong, positive results do not come easily or permanently solve the issues.

According to a study released Friday, March 15, 2019 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Des Moines metro needs 11,848 affordable units for low-income renters.  That same study reveals in Des Moines, a family of four would need to earn $31,226 a year to not be "rent burdened" in a 2-bedroom house — a term experts use to describe families who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

We truly appreciate the programs and their leaders for improving the lives of folks in affordable housing in Polk County.  We also thank our generous donors for their support of these programs.  But as you can see we must constantly rely on that Iowa, “Get It Done” attitude to engage the community to work on housing issues and come together to solve problems as partners.

Because, as Eric Burmeister, Executive Director at the PCHTF says, "The trend points to future difficulties in sustaining central Iowa’s economic growth unless we work quickly and decisively to provide housing options that match the incomes of the jobs employers have and are planning to add."