Pam Carmichael, Executive Director
It's tough to tell that Des Moines has an affordable housing problem.
As you drive through town, new multi-family units are popping up both in the metro as well as the suburbs.  Dumpsters litter the driveways of homes across the city signaling that remodeling is underway. All signs would seem to indicate the housing market is doing just fine.
Yet, if you take a closer look, we have a significant problem with the availability of affordable housing.  In 2015, the Housing Tomorrow plan, led by the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, worked to create a roadmap for affordable housing throughout Polk County, especially in the Des Moines area.  As part of the plan a report was completed that noted that almost 44 percent of all renters, regardless of income, are rent burdened, which means they are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.  One quarter of those households pay more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing.  The report also found that homeownership does not guarantee affordability as 1 in 5 owners are cost burdened. Of homeowners with income at $40,000 or less, 61% are cost burdened
The report also noted that our community needs an estimated 10,000 new units to meet the need for affordable housing.  This is a significant number, but certainly doable if we make a commitment. Consider that a recent article in the Des Moines Register reported that roughly 2,500 new rental units would be completed in our downtown business district in the next 18 months. The bad news:   none of these new units are designated affordable housing
New affordable housing units do not necessarily mean new construction in premium locations. Instead, there are opportunities for both new and rehab projects in neighborhoods long neglected. The neighborhoods that are directly north of downtown (Birdland/Capitol Park) cannot attract investment due to below average housing values, poor housing conditions, and a high concentration of vacant, tax-delinquent lots and abandoned housing.
This is where we are working to solve our affordable housing crisis one unit at a time.  In keeping with HOME, Inc.'s mission we develop housing to provide opportunities to low income families to stabilize in affordable housing.  In this issue you will read about our completion and sale of a single family home at 1427 Penn.  This is our first step in the transformation of  the Birdland and Capitol Park neighborhoods. In the next four years, we will create 37 units of affordable housing, both rental and ownershipTo that end, we will soon begin construction on six new single-family homes in the Birdland neighborhood.  
These are small, slow moves to solving a difficult problem. We are confident these movements will open the doors to bringing in other partners and community groups who will build and rehab units not only in these neighborhoods, but similar neighborhoods across the community.

Pam Carmichael
Executive Director

Family moves into single-family home developed by HOME, Inc. as the first step in four year planClark

In mid-June, HOME Inc. celebrated the completion of a single-family home in the Capitol Park neighborhood just north of Iowa Lutheran Hospital.  An open house was held not only to welcome the family to the neighborhood but also announce the launch of a project that will bring 37 affordable housing units to the Birdland and Capitol Park neighborhoods throughout the next four years.
During the ceremony where the family was introduced, our Executive Director Pam Carmichael, noted that Veronica and Dola and their children "embodied the determination and hard work it takes to become a homeowner in today's world."
The family, who came to Iowa from Kenya five years ago, first approached HOME, Inc. two years ago to enter the homeownership counseling program. They were ready to purchase a home, but with their income and debt load it just wasn't possible. However, they were committed to working with HOME, Inc. to make changes to their finances and do what was necessary to qualify for a mortgage.
Just two short years later, the family of four moved into their new four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.  The fifth family member arrived almost a month later when the family welcomed a new baby.
We tell Veronica and Dola's story because they are representative of low and very low-income families HOME, Inc. serves every day. Veronica is an adjunct professor at DMACC and works with a local program that assists refugees. Dola is a customer service rep and is going to school part-time.  Like so many two-working parent families, they are doing what they can to support their sons and give them a stable home. HOME, Inc. remains proud to be part of the process.
This development was made possible because of our partners at United Way, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Wells Fargo Foundation, Iowa Finance Authority and the Birdland and Capitol Park neighborhood associations. To learn more about the family, read the related Des Moines Register article.


House Shaped Chalkboard sign Home sweet Home on rustic wood
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. 
From April 2015 -June 2016, almost 4,000 calls were handled by our two housing counselors.  This includes almost 1,100 calls in the final quarter of our fiscal year, and represents the highest number of calls received since we've begun keeping records.
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.
  • Landlords exploring their eviction options as well as renters seeking confirmation of their rights in eviction situations.
  • 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.


Close up of female and male hands protecting a paper chain family. Top view of two hands form a circle around white paper chain family on wooden table. Family care, insurance and helping hand concept. HUD GRANT AWARDED
HOME Inc. Receives $18,749 for homeownership counseling

Earlier this summer, HOME, Inc. learned we had received $18,749 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Our grant was part of more than $42 million awarded in housing counseling grants to hundreds of national, regional and local organizations to help families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures. HUD's housing counseling grants and the additional funding they leverage will assist more than 1.4 million households find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes.  The 2016 award amount was an increase from the 2015 grant.
As part of our funding strategies, HOME, Inc. has applied and received a variety of HUD grants.  In fact, we  have been a HUD-approved housing counseling agency since 2003. This grant will be used to offset costs for our counseling services, which includes:
  • Homeownership Counseling and Supportive Services. These services help prospective homeowners prepare to purchase their own homes through counseling and educational sessions.

  • Homebuyer Education. We provide education and certification to households financing their homes through Community Reinvestment or HUD sponsored lending programs.
For more information about our counseling services, contact us at 515-243-1277.

While there is no typical housing counseling call, there have been a number of special clients that have stuck out over the years.  Our client "Jerry" is just one.  This feisty, independent 80-year-old woman called for assistance after she was denied a loan.  But that's only part of the story.
Like many of our community's elderly population, Jerry lives on a fixed-income.  While she does take in ironing and plays taxi to some friends, her primary income comes from social security and a small pension.  Having lived in her home for more than 50 years, she admits she let a few things go.  That's why after several months of receiving ads from Quicken Loans she was pre-approved for a loan.  It seemed to be a good solution to get some things done.
Jerry spent $400 to begin the loan process and was ultimately denied when her appraisal did not come back as expected.  To make matters worse, the lender was unwilling to return her money.  Rather than fight it, Jerry opted to do nothing. Until the next month when she began receiving additional mailings citing her pre-approval.  That's when she called HOME, Inc.
The first thing our homeownership coordinator Lynn did was listen.  Lynn and Jerry contacted the Iowa Attorney General's office to see if there was anything that could be done to get Jerry's money back, as well as get her off the mailing list.  The AG's office stepped in and helped.  Then Lynn and Jerry focused on getting the necessary improvements done to the house.
Lynn contacted Rebuilding Together, a local nonprofit that focuses on rehabilitating low-income housing for seniors, disabled homeowners and families with dependent children.  After putting together an application for consideration, Jerry was selected for exterior repairs that were completed this summer.
"The whole idea was to stabilize her housing and getting her money back into her pocket," Lynn explained. "And, we did just that."
Lynn continues to check in on Jerry and Jerry calls when she has questions that she just needs to bounce off someone else. A true demonstration of supportive services.


1111 Ninth Street, Suite 210
Des Moines, IA 50314
515.243.1277 |

Our mission is to create opportunities for quality, affordable housing. Study after study report that quality, affordable housing enables people to stabilize their lives. To accomplish our mission, HOME, Inc. develops affordable housing, and provides both rental and home ownership counseling and education.