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Success Story: Overcoming a horrific life to find self sufficiency

Jamie is a 40 year-old single mom who has overcome many challenges throughout her life.  Parental neglect, abuse and drug addiction were contributing factors to why she quit school in the 5th grade. She ran away when turmoil in her home escalated, and at the age of 14 she found herself living on the streets. 


Due to Jamie's inability to read or write she couldn't find traditional work, so in her own words she "did what I had to do to survive" on the streets. It didn't take long before she started she suffered the reality of her difficult life. She had history of substance abuse, domestic violence, repeated arrests and incarceration, homelessness, multiple pregnancies that resulted in the termination of parental rights. 


Affordable housing was just one of Jamie's concerns.


In 2013, Jamie discovered she was pregnant with her seventh child while she was incarcerated.  Through a series of events, Jamie eventually sought shelter at the Domestic Violence Center where she began to turnaround her life. She connected with many programs and resources. 


In February 2015, Jamie and HOME, Inc. were introduced when we contacted the Domestic Violence Center about the availability of a three-bedroom rental home at our Clark Commons property. This opportunity came at the right time for Jamie and her boys because it provided an affordable housing option plus integrated supportive services that would help her stay in that housing.  While Jamie was concerned that she wouldn't qualify because she had been turned down by many housing opportunities due to her barriers, she went ahead and applied. 


Jamie has been living at Clark Commons for two years.  During that time, she has continued to work with a case manager in our Integrated Services area.  Much has changed for the positive.  Jamie She has improved her credit dramatically and has obtained bank accounts and a line of credit. She has created and kept to a monthly budget, increased her income by pursuing SSDI for her special needs son.  But most importantly, she has increased her self -esteem and confidence. She is rightfully proud of her accomplishments and her ability to be self-sufficient. 

But she's not done. Jamie's future goals include continuing her sobriety, getting her GED, paying off legal fines and fees, obtaining her driver's license and eventually seeking employment when her boys attend elementary school. 

July Newsletter Now Available

The latest issue of our newsletter has arrived! 

Check out a variety of stories including one highlighting Jamie, a 40 year-old single mom who has overcome many challenges throughout her life. Using several of our services, as well as others throughout the community, she is learning how to be a responsible renter. Our executive director, Pam Carmichael, provides some thoughts on recent housing reports that paint a dismal picture for low-income housing.  We also provide an overview of our counseling activity for the past year.  

Our newsletter can be read here:

FAQ: Will a low credit score stop me from buying a home

The simple answer is yes. 

The longer answer is that buying a home is a major decision – one that takes thought and consideration.  So, before you even begin to look at purchasing a home, you should take a look at your credit score and your credit reports from all three credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Make sure they are accurate, and if your credit score is low you will need to work to raise the score so you can get the best interest rates. 

How a credit score is calculated

To raise your credit score, you need to understand how it is calculated. A credit score is determined by taking each of the following five sections of your credit report and weighting them according to a set standard.


Credit scores range between 300-850. A credit score of 700 or above is generally considered good, and a score of 800 or above on the same range is considered to be excellent. Most credit scores fall between 600 and 750. However, many mortgage lenders require a score of 620 to 640 to qualify. But reality is problems arise when your score falls below approximately 650. 

How to raise your score

1.  Check your credit reports.  Your payment history is the largest contributing factor to your credit score.  An error can dramatically impact the actual score, so look at the payment history. If there is an error, work to correct it with the credit bureau.  You’ll want to keep detailed notes about whom you contact and what actions are needed or being done to fix the error. 

If the late payments aren’t errors, set up electronic payment reminders to get your bills paid by the due date. You can do this through any number of bill pay apps or calendar reminders.

2.  Reduce the amount of debt you owe. Behind payment history, the amount of your outstanding debts figures heavily into your credit score. The best way to do this is to stop using credit cards or other lines of credit. One option: create a payment plan that puts most of your available funds towards the highest interest rate cards first, while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts. 

3. Negotiate.  If you have a delinquent credit card account on your credit report, this is a significant drag. Consumers may ask creditors to accept partial payment to resolve the debt.  The creditor can accept or counter it.  Make sure you have all details in writing and don’t make a payment until you have the accepted proposal in hand.

4. Open a new credit account … or not.  With the help of a financial advisor (or one of our housing credit counselors), look at how opening a new credit account can help or hinder your score.  For someone who has a $500 line of credit that has no balance increasing available to credit to $1,000 can be beneficial because it increases the debt ratio. For someone whose $500 card limit is maxed, increasing the line of credit doesn’t increase the debt ratio enough to matter.  

Also, hard credit inquiries do impact your credit score. A hard credit inquiry is when you initiate a look at your credit history. This happens when you fill out an application for credit cards, housing, etc. If you have more than two hard hits in a short period, it can lower your score several points.

A few additional tips:

  • To get started on examining your credit reports, visit to access all three reports. Once a year, you have the right to examine your credit history for free. The only place you can do this, however, is through this website.
  • If you have questions or are stumped about cleaning up your credit history and increasing your credit score in order to pursue purchasing a home, contact our housing counselors at 515.243.1277 Option 3.
  • The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau provides a comprehensive section on its website about purchasing a home. Included in this section is additional information about how to raise your credit score.
  • For those who are ready to make the step to looking at potential homes, we offer an online certification course called eHome, a homebuyer education course. This course leads you through a number of steps so you understand what it takes to own a home, plus it gives a certificate to present to your mortgage lender declaring you understand and are ready to become a homeowner.

Our HOME, Inc. housing counselors are here to help.  Contact our office at 515.243.1277 for more information.

Our FAQ blogs are based on questions our housing counselors receive. Sources for this blog include:,,,

HOME Inc. is Hiring!

HOME, Inc. is looking for a creative self-starter with fundraising and marketing experience to develop and lead our fundraising program.  If you are looking for the next step in your career, please consider joining our team! 


Title:  Fund Development Director

Reports To:  Executive Director        

Exempt/nonexempt:Exempt:  Full-Time, pay based on experience  

ResumesAccepted:  Through July 15th or until filled.   E-mailresume and cover letter to staff@homeincdsm.orgor find us on CareerBuilder


 Organization Overview: Founded in 1967 through the efforts ofcitizens concerned about the lack of decent, affordable housing, HomeOpportunities Made Easy, Inc. (HOME, Inc.) is the oldest private, non-profithousing organization in Des Moines.HOME, Inc. believes that quality, affordable housing provides thefoundation that enables people to stabilize and improve their lives.  HOME, Inc.’s mission is to createopportunities for quality affordable housing through the development ofaffordable housing, revitalizing low income neighborhoods, counselingindividuals and families so they obtain and retain housing, and providingeducation to tenants and landlords to improve rental relationships. 

Job Purpose/General Summary:  Responsible for planning,implementing, and directing comprehensive fund raising and communication plans designedto support the mission and objectives of HOME Inc. for enhancement of programsand services for clients and their families. This individual will be responsible for workingwith the Executive Director, Board of Directors, and staff to develop andimplement a strategic fund raising plan that will allow HOME, Inc. to meet itsoperations and program needs and objectives on an annual basis and beyond.  

Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 

  1. Develop, implement and coordinate a fundraising plan
  2. Identify, prioritize, cultivate, solicit and recognize individual donors, corporations, and foundations
  3. Establishes short- and long-range goals for funding sources and enlists support from members of HOME Inc. staff and volunteers.
  4. Develop grant proposals, write the proposal, and follow up with any required reporting,
  5. Plan, oversee, and execute major fundraising events,
  6. Design, manage, and oversee the donor data base including recording, reporting and reconciling records
  7. Creates and manages all donor record keeping, pledge tracking, and donor thanking correspondence. 
  8. Oversee strategy for prospecting new foundation and corporate philanthropic support.
  9. Work with Executive Director and Program Manager to create and report on budgets and program narrative to support grant and sponsorship proposals. Work with staff to ensure each project or program is meeting proposal conditions and expectations.
  10. Informs potential contributors of special needs of HOME Inc, and encourages individuals, corporations, and foundations to establish or contribute to special funds through grants, endowments, Trusts, donations of gifts-in-kind, or bequests.
  11. Coordinates capital campaign activities when/as appropriate.
  12. Maintains a recognition system for donors.
  13. Prepares an annual budget for the Fund Development program.
  14. Develops, implements and executes a marketing and communications strategy
  15. Prepares an annual report of activities and accomplishments
  16. Creates and organizes activities of governing body and volunteers relating to fund raising activities.
  17. Researches, develops and assists the Housing Counseling Program Manager in developing and obtaining corporate and foundation grants for programs and services.
  18. Write reports and communication, sharing HOME, Inc. accomplishments and successes. 

Employment Requirements:

Thisposition requires/prefers:

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree
  • 2 - 3 Years of progressively responsible experience in fundraising with a successful track record in identifying local fund-raising prospects. Successful experience in grant writing, submitting grant proposals, securing grant funding and cultivating and stewarding Foundation relationships.
  • Excellent writing, editing and interpersonal skills
  • Proven track record in managing complex programs and multiple demands
  • Must possess the ability to work independently and multi task
  • Strong communication skills with the ability to effectively present information and responds to questions from potential funders and the general public
  • Strong ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters.
  • General hours of work are Monday through Friday (Days) with evening and weekend involvement 

HOME, Inc. is an Equal Opportunityemployer.  Personnel are chosen on thebasis of ability without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin,disability, marital status or sexual orientation, in accordance with federaland state law.