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To provide safe, affordable housing which assists in the stabilization of low-income families and the revitalization of the Des Moines Metropolitan Neighborhoods
In 1987, Sister Stella Neill and four community leaders saw homeless families without shelter or affordable housing. This group believed that families needed a more permanent place to live and grow than a car, shared space with another family or friend, or even a temporary shelter. Out of the recognition of this need Anawim Housing was founded with a vision of providing safe, decent, affordable housing for low-income families in Des Moines, Iowa.
Neill and the other founding members, Frederick Gay, Patti McKee, Sidney Drumheller and R. Dean Wright, foresaw an organization that would play a key role in providing affordable housing to families with children. It also would assist in the revitalization of declining city neighborhoods through rehabilitation and construction of housing.
Anawim Housing started with $5,500 and support from the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in the Omaha Region, which contributed the services of Sister Stella. Anawim's first executive director. In November 1988, Anawim Housing opened its first renovated units to two families. Over 100 families have found shelter in these two emergency units over the last 15 years
Since its inception, Anawim has spent over $11 million developing housing for families. The organization received national recognition in 1997 for its renovation of the Maine Apartments building on Sixth Avenue. The first of three buildings on the National Register of Historic Places to be restored, The Maine became an anchor for Anawim's Sixth Avenue revitalization efforts, which include two additional apartment buildings on the National Register of Historic Places--New Lawn completed in early 2000, and Kromer Flats, which had stood vacant for a number of years. Anawim Housing's work on Sixth Avenue and nearby streets has continued with new housing construction and renovations of duplexes and apartment buildings. With more than 100 families on its waiting list, Anawim has set a goal of nearly doubling the number of units it owns and manages over the next five years.
The position of Family Services Coordinator was established in 1992 to work with families as they moved from homelessness to stability. The coordinator meets with the applicants for housing to determine their household needs, to set goals that will stabilize their lives, and to identify community services to help them attain those goals.
In 1997, Anawim Housing contracted with the City of Des Moines to operate Shelter Plus Care. The program provides rental subsidies, supportive assistance, and coordination with social services for homeless families and individuals with severe mental illness, HIV/AIDS or chronic substance abuse.
In 2003, Anawim Housing assisted 376 households in the 143 units it has developed and manages in renovated homes, duplexes and apartment buildings, and in new housing built on vacant lots in central city neighborhoods.
Anawim Housing provides rental subsidies on a monthly average to 100 households.
Its current annual budget is $1.5 million with funding coming from local, state and federal government sources, conventional mortgages, and private donations.
- Andrea Dencklau
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