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Take another look at Anawim housing program in Des Moines

Are you frustrated by the cold, yet? If you are, you are not alone. In a Des Moines grocery store, a crying child who was apparently frustrated at having to put on a bulky coat before leaving the store, exemplified the sentiments of many passing by. One woman commented, "Are you tired of winter? I am too."

What if you were tired of sharing a bed with winter, but had nowhere else to go? You may recall the first story of cruel cold this winter. Des Moines police were called to a homeless camp along the Des Moines river (Dec. 09), where they found a man lying dead, inside a tent.

According to the Des Moines' Community Housing Affordability Strategies Databook, about 16,000 families can not find an affordable rental unit. On average, the montly rental fee for a three-bedroom unit is $850 per month.

In Polk County, more than a third of resident families have incomes of 80% or less than the Median Family Income (MFI). A minimum wage earner making $7.25 an hour can not afford monthly rent higher  than $377. A 40-hour work week would be fine if the wage was high enough. However, a minimum wage earner in Polk County would need to work at least a 67-hour work-week in order to afford even a two-bedroom unit.

Do you know a homeless person? Are you looking for shelter yourself? Have you heard of Anawim in Des Moines, IA?

Anawim has several community programs. If you call and ask about a specific one, you may feel daunted if you do not qualify for that one. Keep asking. A Des Moines woman recently sought services and was denied because she did not qualify for the program she sought. With no additional information, she was unaware that the same organization offers dozens of other programs, some of which she would have been eligible for had she kept investigating at the time.

Anawim is a housing program founded by Sister Stella Neill. Anawim is awarded federal monies through the city of Des Moines. These funds are used to develop and lease affordable housing. Sister Neill started the program 21 years ago. Since then, millions of dollars have been spent re-developing vacant lots and abandoned buildings.

This year, Anawim is teaming with Hubbell Homes to build nine new townhomes at 21st and Forest.

For more information about Anawim, visit