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Day on the Hill Highlights

On February 21, 2024, housing and homelessness advocates from across Iowa gathered to advocate for eviction expungement and against criminalization of homelessness.

Now is the time to contact your legislator about assigning HF 475 regarding eviction expungement to a Senate Subcommittee. It has passed in the House and must pass out of committee and pass the Senate to remain alive this session.

To register for timely Action Alerts, find applicable talking points, and to follow what legislation is currently proposed, please visit our Advocacy web page.

Criminalizing Homelessness Quickly Defeated

On February 13, 2024, housing advocates packed the legislative room to testify against the harmful effects of criminalizing homelessness and the redirection of funding from effective practices to unsheltered and guarded encampments. The collective response from all of you led to the quick elimination of Senate Study Bill 3175. To be certain, however, this is only a test run as we see Cicero-backed criminalization legislation rising up nationwide. To learn more about how to frame messages with your legislators around this issue, please visit the Advocacy page on our website or click here.


Homeward has released study results and key recommendations for improving the Polk County homelessness response system, which was determined to be significantly undersized relative to what is needed to serve people experiencing homelessness. The recommendations in the report resulted from an in-depth needs assessment conducted by independent consultants that began last fall. The two page summary and the full report can be found at www.homewardiowa.org/gapanalysis

Public Benefits 101 Publication

UpLift, the Central Iowa Basic Income Project, is excited to release its latest publication, "Public Benefits 101: Introduction to Iowa Public Benefits". This resource was created in partnership with United Ways of Iowa and Disability Rights Iowa. This high-level overview is intended to serve as a tool to help readers deepen their understanding of Iowa's current social safety net while also helping connect community members to needed supports. It highlights the purpose of each program, the eligibility criteria to receive each benefit, how often recertification or renewal is required, and the most common ways in which individuals may lose the benefit. In addition to providing basic information about each public benefit, an introduction to the concept of a benefits cliff is included.

Gregg Colburn to Speak at ISU College of Design

April 18 at 5:00 PM

Kocimski Auditorium, 101 Design


An associate professor in the University of Washington's Runstad Department of Real Estate, Gregg Colburn serves as co-chair of the university's Homelessness Research Initiative and is a member of the National Alliance to End Homelessness Research Council. He is the co-author of Homelessness is a Housing Problem: How Structural Factors Explain U.S. Patterns (University of California Press, 2022). His research on housing and homelessness has been featured in leading media outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Economist, Bloomberg and National Public Radio.

Colburn's free presentation is part of the 2024 Homelessness Symposium hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Community and Regional Planning with support from the Gordon Family Endowment.

Housing Matters Symposium!

April 26th: 8:00-11:30 am

Des Moines Botanical Gardens

Register HERE!

Polk County Housing Trust Fund's annual symposium, Housing Matters, will be the morning of Friday April 26 at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens Dupont Room in Des Moines.

Headlining the event is keynote speaker, Jenny Schuetz, a Senior Fellow at Brookings Metro focused on improving housing and land use policies. She is author of Fixer Upper: How to Repair America's Broken Housing System which has been covered on Marketplace, The Ezra Klein Show, Slate, and Bloomberg CityLab.

The Housing Matters Symposium is a great morning of inspiration and networking for anyone with an interest in expanding housing opportunity in Central Iowa.

Featured Trainings

March 11-15, 2024: 8 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm


Effects and Risks of Common Drugs

 Registration Required: https://www.homelesstraining.com/free-training/

This 44 minute training will provide an overview of the following substances: opiods/heroin/fentanyl, alcohol, cocaine/crack, methamphetamine, inhalants, marijuana. Topics will include how drugs impact the brain, warning signs, risks of aggression and overdose, and common paraphernalia.

Workbook and attendance certificate is included.

Ryan Dowd is the former executive director of Hesed House (a low-barrier shelter outside Chicago). Based on 20+ years of experience and tons of scientific research, Ryan now teaches organizations around the world how to de-escalate situations with vulnerable individuals. Since 2016, his trainings have been used by thousands of nonprofits, libraries, local government, businesses, etc. He is currently building a training series for McDonald’s on de-escalating conflict with individuals experiencing homelessness. 

March 29, 2024: 1:30-3:00 pm

Brain Injury Basics

Cost: no cost

The Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA

Sponsored by Primary Health Care and Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa

Training Resources

The Service Council will be working to identify trainings that are helpful to our profession. In the interim, there are several trainings that are available through partners. Rather than calling out each training, you'll find a link to Training Calendars that may be appropriate resources for you. Many of the trainings listed in these resources are free to attend. Click on the name to access their website.

Iowa Board of Certification: The Iowa Board manages certification for several licensed professionals, however, they also offer a range of trainings specific to ethics, human services, and substance use.

Your Life Iowa: Your Life Iowa is a public-facing resource and referral website, however, trainings that are state-sponsored and free to the public can also be found on their calendar.

The Coalition for Family and Children's Services in Iowa: Designed for organizations who serve children and families, the Coalition sponsors several valuable trainings.

Iowa Nonprofit Alliance: INA provides nonprofit management trainings to members and non-members (for a fee). The INA is a valuable resource to Iowa nonprofits.

Youth Action Council Service Project

Throughout the months of March and April, the YAC along with West Des Moines students are busy collecting items for homeless youth kindness bags to be delivered to youth experiencing homelessness. YAC and West Des Moines Schools will host a joint packing day on Friday, May 3. Bridget Carberry Montgomery, West Des Moines Service Learning Coordinator states, "This is a great opportunity for our West Des Moines students to learn that there is no one size fits all model of homelessness. We hope through this project, they are able to connect their service to real stories and impact."

The packing day will also involve a presentation from YAC on local youth homelessness data, myths, and an overview of realities that face young people experiencing homelessness.

An Amazon Wish List has been established for direct shipping to West Des Moines Schools and any donations can be dropped off at ICA (1111 9th St, Ste. 380, Des Moines) or Homeward offices at 505 5th Ave, Ste 1010, Des Moines). A flyer that can be used for distribution can be found here. If you would prefer to donate cash to the project, please visit our donation page on our website.

This unique joint project is made possible thanks to Youth Service America, Sodexo Foundation, and the Hershey's Foundation.

Homeward Upcoming Meetings

Service Council: March 20, 8:30-10:00 am. Polk County River Place. Discuss the most recent training survey and create a training pathway. Contact Amy Croll to be added.

Youth Homelessness Work Group Meeting (quarterly on the 2nd Wed of the month): April 10, 10-12 pm. Polk County River Place.

Youth Homeless Service Provider Networking Event: April 22, 3-5 pm. Full Circle Recovery, 1750 48th St., Ste. 101A, Des Moines, IA. This is a free opportunity to network with fellow housing advocates and learn about the services offered at Full Circle Recovery.

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