June 20, 2012
Contact: Emily Osweiler, YMCA Supportive Housing Campus, 515.288.2424
Dave Gieseke, YMCA of Greater Des Moines Public Relations, email@example.com
New Era Continuing for YMCA Supportive Housing Campus in Des Moines
Des Moines, Iowa – Emily Osweiler remembers the initial days after the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus (YSHC) opened its doors in downtown Des Moines.
“The tenants, particularly those that moved from the Riverfront location to here, were so excited about the new facility,” said Osweiler, director of the YSHC. “Yet, the things they were excited about were things most of us take for granted – like having their own private bathroom or being able to leave their toothbrush by the sink.
“One person came to me in tears that first week and told me he couldn’t remember the last time he slept in air conditioning and that he was so grateful.”
Osweiler says the YSHC has given a segment of the Des Moines community dignity, hope and support since opening in June 2011.
The Y facility has 140 individual efficiency apartment units along with classrooms, counseling suites, library, small workout room, laundry facilities, and dining area. It’s an indescribable upgrade from the previous housing unit at the Riverfront Y location on Locust Street.
“The residence tower in that building was outdated,” Osweiler said. “The YMCA has been in long-term discussions to build such a campus to give people more privacy and independence.
“This facility feels like a home.”
The operation of the YSHC is different from its predecessor. By September 2011, all 140 units were full and there is now a wait list close to 40 people. Both men and women can live in the campus. Tenants sign a six-month lease and can stay as long as they need to, providing they pay their rent and abide by the campus’ rules – no alcohol or drugs among other regulations.
The YSHC asks that each tenant pay at least 30% of their monthly income for the fair-market value units. Assistance to make up the remainder of the monthly rent is provided by the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.
Residents are assigned a case manager, which are made available to all tenants, helping them focus on issues such as income, sobriety, relationships and employment.
“Our tenants all have different goals that the case manager helps them work towards” Osweiler said. “If they have a substance abuse issue, we may refer them to an outside agency that we partner with. But it can be as simple as someone who wants to get their driver’s license.”
Due to the lack of affordable housing in central Iowa, there continues to be a need for places like the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus. Osweiler says while the need is still great, the YSHC is making an impact.
“We have 140 people at any given time in our facility,” she said. "While there is still a great need to eliminate homelessness in central Iowa, the Supportive Housing Campus is full and full of people who are not homeless.”