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Affordable Housing Week Recap

Last week was the Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s seventh annual Affordable Housing Week! As a housing agency, HOME, Inc. makes it a priority to have staff members attend the various events.

Monday morning’s kickoff event was the Landlord Forum. This year’s forum focused on providing landlords and property managers with new strategies to overcome implicit bias to ensure equitable housing for all tenants. The presentations were insightful and provided a lot of information and statistics behind landlord biases.Another highlight of the Landlord Forum was the unveiling of United Way’s free 24/7 Housing Interpretation Hotline to help landlords and non-English speaking tenants solve housing issues. This new resource is going to be incredibly impactful in the work we do as we work with a number of clients who do not speak English fluently.

Thursday’s main event was the Symposium titled, Housing Equity – A Historical Look. This event provided a day filled with important information, impactful discussion, and an inspiration to create a more equitable housing environment in our community. The presentation included highlights from Des Moines’ own One Economy report, a look at the inequities our African American population are facing. Two journalist from Governing Magazine presented their findings from their research on the segregation of Peoria, I Land Springfield, IL. After the screening of the documentary, “Jim Crow of the North”, all of the speakers participated in a panel discussion. Our staff that were able to attend this event were truly surprised by the statistics shared in the various presentations. All of the speakers were informative and passionate.Even though we are supposed to be the experts on affordable housing we found the presentations enlightening and eye opening.

Friday was the Affordable Housing Bus Tour. Not only did this tour allow our staff to learn more about the Des Moines neighborhoods, but we also learned how redlining has affected the Des Moines neighborhoods over the last century. The trip took an hour and a half and traveled through many Des Moines neighborhoods including, Capital Park, Birdland, Drake, and the River Bend. Through the tour we learned about how racial discrimination integrated itself into the Des Moines neighborhoods. As HOME, Inc. employees, we were proud to go through neighborhoods we have helped to revitalized and see the impact our houses have on the community. After the bus ride, several staff members had the opportunity to visit the ‘Undesign the Red Line’ project. This exhibit explains the impact explicit racism from the government had on the housing system during the Jim Crow Era by redlining and devaluing specific neighborhoods in the early to mid-1900s. We as a community have yet to integrate our neighborhoods and create equity in our city. By learning more about redlining, we became even more passionate about housing equity and equality.

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Last, but not least, Saturday’s Can I Be Your Neighbor Design Challenge closed out Affordable Housing Week with a bang. HOME, Inc.has been a proud partner of this challenge since its inception. Our Executive Director, Pam Carmichael judges the designs each year, and this is what she had to say about it, “Each year we get more and more students, and each year the designs get better and better. It is inspiring to see so many students want to take on the challenge of creating an affordable unit that meets the needs and interests of the family scenario given. This design challenge reinforces HOME,Inc.’s mission to create quality affordable housing for all.


Constructing in Capitol Park

As seen as a rectangular shape on first glance, ended up being one of the most exciting projects HOME, Inc. has embarked on through the past three years. This rectangle is better known as Capitol Park. Capitol Park is a neighborhood of around 3,500 people. It has a suburb feel with wonderful schools, local businesses, and parks. HOME, Inc. wanted to help capitalize Capitol Park (get it, haha).

Capitol Park has been a target area for HOME, Inc.’s neighborhood revitalization program. We started our program in 2017 and are currently in our second and final phase. Within the past three years HOME, Inc. has built ten homes in the community. By focusing our building efforts in the Capitol Park neighborhood we have been able to improve the average house value. Five years ago, the average house value was approximately $79,000. Now after five years and new ten houses built the average house value is $150,000.

Though we have made a significant impact in the neighborhood community of Capitol Park already, we are not done! We have four more prospective properties that we are keeping our eye on. We are looking at having the prospective properties being rental to ownership houses, in which homeowners work up to owning the house, while renting in the meantime. We hope that all of the properties will be owned by families so that they can add happiness to the neighborhood.

We are so thankful and appreciate the support from the Neighborhood Finance Cooperation (NFC), Habitat for Humanity, and Viva East Bank. Additionally, we would like to thank the Capitol Park Neighborhood Association and the residents of Capitol Park.

Are you interested in our prospective properties? Well,you’re in the right place! Keep a lookout on our website for more information regarding new properties.


Resolution Through Advocacy

Advocacy. A big word with a lot of meaning. Advocacy can mean something different to any individual person. Advocacy can be shown in a multitude of ways. Examples of advocacy are volunteering, working on policy,fundraising, and networking.

What can you be an advocate for? Primarily, here at HOME, Inc. we advocate for housing. That means we advocate for tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, education,and primarily for people who do not have a voice.

Our staff advocates on behalf of our clients every day. It seems as it is just something that we do, and that is the job. Recently, one of our employees dedicated themselves to help a client better his lifestyle and standard of living.

The power of advocacy was so impressive in this situation. One of our Landlord/Tenant counselors advocated for a client who was mentally disabled and needed additional support. He lived with his brother who was able to help take care of him majority of the time, but sometimes the client would be worried or nervous about something minimal and call the landlord when it wasnot essential. The calls continued to occur more and more frequently to the point where the landlord was thinking about an eviction. Neither parties wanted this event to occur, so that is when HOME, Inc. stepped in.

Everyone knew that the current housing situation was not beneficial or healthy for anyone. A new solution had to be concocted where the brother can still be in the client’s life, the client can have a primary caretaker and a home where he feels safe, and the landlord could prevent an eviction and also spend less time on the phone. Our counselor then worked on a team with the case manager, DHS, the brother, and a group home. The counselor spend many days advocating for the client and their well-being by also making sure everyone else in the situation was feeling confident and happy about the process.

To solve the problem, the client will move to a group home and his brother will work to reestablish guardianship. This helps the brothers maintain their relationship, the client have a dependent location with minimal changes to be worried about, and the landlord will be put at ease with less phone calls.

A lot of times our landlord/tenant counselors advocate for our clients by giving them self-confidence and the information they need to solve the problem on their own. In this situation, our counselor talked to many other community members and organizations to speak on behalf of the rights and responsibilities of our client, advocating for his well-being to find resolution.


History of HOME, Inc. Houses

HOME, Inc. has been around for over 50 years. Below is a look at some of things we have been able to accomplish over the years. Enjoy!

      ·1970: First Federally subsidized HUD 235 (j)rehab project completed.

      ·1979: HOME, Inc. purchases and rehabs two duplexes to provide rental housing.

      ·1983: HOME, Inc. owned a total 34 buildings that they are using as rental properties.

      ·1990: The Affordable Housing Rehabilitation Service was expanded assisting 38 households within 3 months.

      ·1996: Broke ground on two new single-family homes in the Capitol East Neighborhood.

      ·1999: 1 historic property rehabilitation completed for resale.

      ·2002: Applied and received city bid for construction of 10 new single-family homes in the Capitol East Neighborhood.

      ·2005: Implement a plan to purchase single family housing units from the Des Moines Municipal Housing Agency for homeownership opportunities for low-income families.

      ·2006: Expanding contracting services to rural Dallas County.

      ·2007: United Way transferred ownership of four long-term lease-purchase homes to HOME, Inc.

Now, looking at the 2018 annual report, we have 5 lots for future development, 3 new construction units, 6 developed units, 6 managed contract properties, 5 rental properties maintained for supportive services, and 13 completed metro home improvement projects.

We are proud of the housing services we provide and hope to continue to create housing stability in our community!