From the Desk of Mary Mendenhall-Core
Anawim Housing Director of Advancement
Home is Everything
After growing up on the south side and working my entire career in the Des Moines area, I have watched the evolution of our beautiful city’s downtown landscape for over 55 years. As a little girl, I remember the excitement of seeing the Ruan Center construction, watching it grow taller with each trip downtown with my mother. As a young adult, I served as a tour guide for the public open house of 801 Grand. I worked at Principal for many years, making the trip in and out of downtown every day.
With so many treasured memories of the city’s growth over the years, I am struck that while our community has made wonderful advancements in developing our city, we have not kept pace with developing affordable housing or to house our most vulnerable citizens who are without a home.
After a 21-year career at Principal, I transitioned to the non-profit sector and went to work for United Way of Central Iowa. The past 17 years I have worked for various organizations. In November of 2020, I joined Anawim Housing as the new Director of Advancement.
In my new role, I have learned that poverty, racial inequality and homelessness are deeply connected. When given a safe and stable home people create happy and healthy lives for themselves. Hearing stories of resilience, determination and hope on a daily basis encouraged me to share how the powerful and life changing work I witness daily is impacting our community.
Anawim Housing has been a resource in our community since 1987. Anawim is roughly translated as serving those in need.
Our staff positively transforms the lives of people who experienced homelessness and live with mental health challenges, substance use disorder, physical disabilities, diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, or fleeing domestic violence. They provide support with self-directed recovery and community inclusion. As an alternative to a system of emergency shelter and transitional housing progressions, our model is simple: provide housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive resources in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment.
Housing provided are apartments scattered throughout the city of Des Moines. This scattered site model fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and it helps speed the reintegration of our residents into their community. Our goal is for them to become part of the community, and not just live in the community.
We strive to help participants live in the community and to be valued for their uniqueness and abilities, just like everyone else. Our staff aims to walk alongside participants, wherever they are on the path of life, and to support them in the places they want support. Ultimately, we want to empower participants to make their own decisions. Our hope is to provide all manner of opportunities for participants to reclaim their lives on their own terms.
We take pride in knowing our Permanent Supportive Housing program maintains a 95% housing retention rate even amongst those individuals not considered housing ready by other programs.
Anawim Housing has grown to be a leader in affordable housing. Its staff and board work tirelessly to end homelessness, while ensuring the most vulnerable in the community have a safe place to call home. It is now the largest provider of permanent supportive housing in Iowa, owning more than 536 affordable housing units and serving more than 1,200 individuals in the Greater Des Moines area.
Youth Homeless Opportunity Program (YHOP)
YHOP is Anawim Housing’s newest program and we are working hard to solve youth homelessness in Polk County.
Over the past three years, our Executive Director Cynthia Latcham, worked with key stakeholders across Polk County to create a plan for ending youth homelessness. The process was detailed and targeted in defining the problem, outlining the causes, and finding potential solutions. The result was a comprehensive plan aimed at ending youth homelessness in our community.
This plan served as a platform for applying for a highly competitive HUD (The Department of Housing and Urban Development) Youth Homeless Demonstration Grant. These grants infuse financial and technical support into communities ready to take decisive action in ending youth homelessness. We were excited to find out last fall we were granted $375,464.
Making a Difference
Anawim Housing is making a difference every day and the impact is monumental. I ask you to take time to get to know more about Anawim Housing and the positive impact made on our community.
You can help us end homelessness with investing in our work. A hundred percent of financial donations we receive funds Anawim Housing programs and services.
Here is a link to our Permanent Supportive Housing Video: CLICK HERE
To learn more please CLICK HERE and follow us on social media.
My Contact Info:
Mary Mendenhall-Core, Director of Advancement
Office Phone: 515-809-1156