For more than 20 years, Anawim Housing has met the needs of Polk County's most vulnerable citizens through Permanent Supportive Housing programs. Today, more than 220 units are leased across the county making us the largest provider of permanent supportive housing in Iowa. These units house families as well as individuals who come from homelessness and live with mental illness, a substance use disorder, a physical disability, or a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Upon referral through Polk County Centralized Intake, the supportive program staff meet regularly with participants, helping them on the road to housing stability.
Anawim Housing programs operate under the Housing First model. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.
The Housing First approach views housing as the foundation for life improvement and enables access to permanent housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of a typical renter. Supportive Services are offered to support people with housing stability and individual well-being, but participation is not required as services have been found to be more effective when a person chooses to engage.
Click here for more information on Housing First from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
We often take for granted what stable housing can provide. It's not just a place to call home or a roof over a family's head. Stable housing changes lives, alleviates poverty, and offers a firm foundation so individuals and families can gain stability and live happy, healthy lives.Without stable housing, individuals and families become transient - moving frequently from place to place. This transience can lead to absenteeism and high transfer rates for students in school. Without stable housing, it is difficult for individuals to access the physical and mental health care they need. Instead, individuals experiencing homelessness rely on crisis services like emergency departments and county jails. Once housed, our participants are more likely to see their primary care doctor regularly and take preventative health measures that are otherwise impossible without stable housing.
When you are experiencing homelessness, you're focused on survival - getting through the day or meeting your basic needs. Securing safe, stable, and affordable housing gives individuals and families the foundation to work toward their goals and become active members of the community.
Anawim Housing program managers connect participants with resources that will help them meet their goals. For some, this means accessing health care, substance abuse treatment, or job development. For others, it means re-connecting with family, applying for Social Security benefits, or volunteering in the community. We build trusting relationships with our clients, we partner with them on their road to a happy, healthy life. Anawim Housing program clients pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent and utilities. This means that they have more to spend on food, healthcare, and other basic necessities. Poverty is deeply connected to housing. When we provide stable, supportive housing, we provide individuals and families with the chance to live a better life.
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Full Circle was created in 2018 to be a place for Anawim Housing program tenants to connect, grow, learn and work together toward self-sufficiency. The group meets weekly. Participants all share in a meal, then begin to share stories and build relationships, as they welcome providers and professionals from around Des Moines to share their resources, tools and practices that help tenants build happier, healthier, less isolated lives. Fred Van Liew, an original founder of Anawim Housing, is a regular facilitator of Full Circle, providing inspiration for the name after initiating the group process of deep listening to help build trust. Other guests have included art therapists, police officers, and financial planners to offer their guidance. Tenants have practiced chair yoga and learned about programs and events across the city.
Since the creation of Full Circle, program managers and facilitators have witnessed participants coming full circle. They've heard them tell stories of hardship and home, seen long standing tenants share wisdom with new tenants and watched individuals take on leadership roles within the group. In the words of one participant, "I look forward to Full Circle all week. It is nice to have something to look forward to."
Volunteers Needed! If you are interested in helping provide a meal for an upcoming Full Circle meeting, please visit our Ways To Get Involved page and fill out a volunteer interest form, specifying your interest in helping to provide a meal.