Affordable Housing Week Recap

Last week was the Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s seventh annual Affordable Housing Week! As a housing agency, HOME, Inc. makes it a priority to have staff members attend the various events.

Monday morning’s kickoff event was the Landlord Forum. This year’s forum focused on providing landlords and property managers with new strategies to overcome implicit bias to ensure equitable housing for all tenants. The presentations were insightful and provided a lot of information and statistics behind landlord biases. Another highlight of the Landlord Forum was the unveiling of United Way’s free 24/7 Housing Interpretation Hotline to help landlords and non-English speaking tenants solve housing issues. This new resource is going to be incredibly impactful in the work we do as we work with a number of clients who do not speak English fluently.

Thursday’s main event was the Symposium titled, Housing Equity – A Historical Look. This event provided a day filled with important information, impactful discussion, and an inspiration to create a more equitable housing environment in our community. The presentation included highlights from Des Moines’ own One Economy report, a look at the inequities our African American population are facing. Two journalist from Governing Magazine presented their findings from their research on the segregation of Peoria, IL Springfield, IL. After the screening of the documentary, “Jim Crow of the North”, all of the speakers participated in a panel discussion. Our staff that were able to attend this event were truly surprised by the statistics shared in the various presentations. All of the speakers were informative and passionate. Even though we are supposed to be the experts on affordable housing we found the presentations enlightening and eye opening.

Friday was the Affordable Housing Bus Tour. Not only did this tour allow our staff to learn more about the Des Moines neighborhoods, but we also learned how redlining has affected the Des Moines neighborhoods over the last century. The trip took an hour and a half and traveled through many Des Moines neighborhoods including, Capital Park, Birdland, Drake, and the River Bend. Through the tour we learned about how racial discrimination integrated itself into the Des Moines neighborhoods. As HOME, Inc. employees, we were proud to go through neighborhoods we have helped to revitalized and see the impact our houses have on the community. After the bus ride, several staff members had the opportunity to visit the ‘Undesign the Red Line’ project. This exhibit explains the impact explicit racism from the government had on the housing system during the Jim Crow Era by redlining and devaluing specific neighborhoods in the early to mid-1900s. We as a community have yet to integrate our neighborhoods and create equity in our city. By learning more about redlining, we became even more passionate about housing equity and equality.


Last, but not least, Saturday’s Can I Be Your Neighbor Design Challenge closed out Affordable Housing Week with a bang. HOME, Inc.has been a proud partner of this challenge since its inception. Our Executive Director, Pam Carmichael judges the designs each year, and this is what she had to say about it: “Each year we get more and more students, and each year the designs get better and better. It is inspiring to see so many students want to take on the challenge of creating an affordable unit that meets the needs and interests of the family scenario given. This design challenge reinforces HOME,Inc.’s mission to create quality affordable housing for all."

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