Pam Carmichael, Executive Director
In the past few weeks, there have been reports released that have alarming information about affordable housing.
Each year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) releases the
Out Of Reach (OOR)
report that determines the minimum hourly wage to rent a modest, two-bedroom apartment in each state. This year's report found that there is no place in the US where someone can rent an apartment in a job that earns just minimum wage.
The United Way of Iowa also released a report about the status of households throughout Polk County and Iowa. The
ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) report
a large population of residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty. In Polk County, 26 percent of all households are in the ALICE income range. Among single-mother households in Polk County, 41 percent are ALICE households.
- More than 30 percent of Iowa's households with children live below the ALICE threshold.
- Over 40 percent of Iowa's senior households qualify as ALICE.
- The household survival budget for a family of four (two adults, infant and toddler) is $56,000 - more than double the $24,000 federal poverty level for the same family.
- The family of four's greatest expense is child care.
- 66 percent of Iowa jobs pay less than $20 an hour, and more than half of those pay less than $15 an hour.
None of these findings represent a "new" trend. HOME, Inc. provides free rental housing counseling to both tenants and landlords. We know that most of our tenant clients have difficulties obtaining and retaining housing that is affordable. Of the 1,145 tenants that received rental housing counseling in 2017, 73% are spending more than 30% of their income on housing and 38% were paying more than 50% of their monthly income on housing costs.
These tenants struggle every month to pay for the necessities of life - food, medicine, transportation and child care. An emergency car repair or medical bill can lead to an eviction and homelessness.
This is something we continue to work to address with our programs and services. We assist those with housing concerns and direct them to the appropriate community resources for other issues and concerns. There are broader community initiatives looking at how we can better find solutions. We will continue to provide updates as we hear them, but in the meantime, we are committed to doing what we have done for more than 50 years -- creating housing opportunities.
In the meantime, here are a few additional updates.
- For the first time in quite awhile, the Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance voucher program (also known as Section 8 vouchers) waiting list will be opened beginning on Thursday, July 19 at 8 a.m. through Friday, July 20 at 5 p.m. Pre-applications are only available online at DMMHA.apply4housing.com and will not be available online until then. For more information, visit the Des Moines public housing page at https://www.dmgov.org/Departments/HousingServices/Pages/default.aspx.
- We are on Facebook and Twitter. We provide updates and success stories about our programs and services, as well as tips and information for our clients.
- HOME, Inc. has moved to a new location. We are now at 1618 6th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50314. Please make sure you change your contact information.
- Finally, our offices will be closed Wednesday, July 4 and Thursday, July 5. We will reopen on Friday, July 6 at 8:30 a.m.
2017 ANNUAL REPORT
Each year, we release an annual report. If you haven't had a chance to review the 2017 annual report, it is a great way to learn more about what we do and who we impact.
HOME, Inc. is the only full service housing agency in Des Moines combining affordable housing development, neighborhood revitalization, case management and supportive services and housing counseling and education to the housing consumers. Since our inception we have developed 367 units of affordable housing providing homeownership opportunities to 272 low income families below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). Ninety-one of those families retained their housing long-term. We have provided housing counseling and educational services to over 160,000 households. We have worked in partnership since 2000 with Polk County suburbs to make over $3M in improvements to the homes of 266 elderly and/or disabled homeowners. This comprehensive approach sets HOME, Inc. apart and is the reason we are the only certified Community Housing Organization and Local Housing Counseling Agency in Des Moines that meets the guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HOME, Inc. committed to building six new units. All have been sold. In the next two years, we expect to build four more homes and 13
- Our stable families program helped 33 families with 82 children.
- We provided counseling to 3,368 individuals.
- Through our homebuyer education program, 111 people became certified homebuyers.
- Completed 31 MHIP projects that helped low-income homeowners make critical improvements to their properties.
- We acquired eight properties; developed six units; created three new construction units; maintained five rental properties for supportive services; and, managed six contract properties.
You may download both this annual report, as well as the past several years by visiting our website.
Increase seen in number of housing calls
While we count each of our services as important, it could be argued that our Counseling Services just may be our most popular and most necessary.
In the 2017 calendar year, HOME, Inc. responded to 2,293 calls and 89% of those surveyed indicated that the resources, information and counseling provided to them helped them resolve their housing issue.
Tenant rental counseling accounted for 83% of those calls with 1,811 calls serving 1,145 individual clients.
Calls come from all areas - homeowners, potential homeowners, renters and landlords. Government agencies use this as a resource for answering questions about how to help individual clients. This ensures our topics cover a lot of areas. For example, our calls include:
- Renters wanting to understand their rights in requesting maintenance and repairs.
- Helping landlords find creative solutions to tenant issues outside of the court, code enforcement or small claims processes.
- Potential homeowners seeking information about how to move from rental to homeownership.
- Near homeless families and individuals seeking resources.
For more information about our counseling services, contact us at
515-243-1277, option 1. Our office hours are Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - Noon and 1 - 4 p.m. Our voicemail is available 24/7 and calls are returned in the order received. For calls received Monday - Thursday, we typically will return calls within 24 hours.
CAN I BE YOUR NEIGHBOR?
Carmichael Judges Affordable Housing Week Design Challenge
Our executive director, Pam Carmichael, sat on the panel of judges that determined the winner of the student design challenge "Can I Be Your Neighbor?"
More than 50 students from five central Iowa high schools were given the profile of a fictional family who would live in the home, the location of a vacant in-fill lot in Des Moines and parameters, such as maximum square footage and cost limitations. The competition, managed by ASK Studio, a Des Moines architectural firm, included classroom visits by architects and a homebuilder professional to provide feedback to the students on their preliminary designs.
Five designs were selected for the competition event at Grand View University's Krumm Business Center. Each finalist had up to five minutes to present their design, followed by a question and answer session with a panel of judges that included Bobbi Jo Duneman, ASK Studio; Pam Carmichael, HOME Inc.; Dan Knoup, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines; andTramesha Davis, a resident of Anawim Housing. The judges scored the presentations and designs based on sensitivity to the needs of the family, ingenuity of space utilization, budget realism, flexibility for changing needs of the family and image of the home.
Sydney Christman's affordable home design took top honors in the Can I Be Your NeighborDesign Challenge, which wrapped up the Polk County Housing Trust Fund's sixth annual Affordable Housing Week, April 16-21. Affordable Housing Week is an annual initiative to provide opportunities to learn more about the critical role of safe, stable and affordable housing in creating a healthy and economically vibrant community.
Overcoming a horrific life to find self sufficiency
Jamie is a 40 year-old single mom who has overcome many challenges throughout her life. Parental neglect, abuse and drug addiction were contributing factors to why she quit school in the 5th grade. She ran away when turmoil in her home escalated, and at the age of 14 she found herself living on the streets.
Due to Jamie's inability to read or write she couldn't find traditional work, so in her own words she "did what I had to do to survive" on the streets. It didn't take long before she started she suffered the reality of her difficult life. She had history of substance abuse, domestic violence, repeated arrests and incarceration, homelessness, multiple pregnancies that resulted in the termination of parental rights.
Affordable housing was just one of Jamie's concerns.
In 2013, Jamie discovered she was pregnant with her seventh child while she was incarcerated. Through a series of events, Jamie eventually sought shelter at the Domestic Violence Center where she began to turnaround her life. She connected with many programs and resources.
In February 2015, Jamie and HOME, Inc. were introduced when we contacted the Domestic Violence Center about the availability of a three-bedroom rental home at our Clark Commons property. This opportunity came at the right time for Jamie and her boys because it provided an affordable housing option plus
integrated supportive services
that would help her stay in that housing. While Jamie was concerned that she wouldn't qualify because she had been turned down by many housing opportunities due to her barriers, she went ahead and applied.
Jamie has been living at Clark Commons for two years. During that time, she has continued to work with a case manager in our Integrated Services area. Much has changed for the positive. Jamie She has improved her credit dramatically and has obtained bank accounts and a line of credit. She has created and kept to a monthly budget, increased her income by pursuing SSDI for her special needs son. But most importantly, she has increased her self -esteem and confidence. She is rightfully proud of her accomplishments and her ability to be self-sufficient.
But she's not done. Jamie's future goals include continuing her sobriety, getting her GED, paying off legal fines and fees, obtaining her driver's license and eventually seeking employment when her boys attend elementary school.