RENTAL RATES: Changes To YMCA Rental Assistance

People living at the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus in Des Moines could end up paying more each month.  The Y isn’t raising rent, but it is making cuts to the rental assistance program.

“I was living at the homeless shelter.  I needed a place to stay so I figured, I’d try here,” says Kevin Williams.

Williams has called the facility on SW 9th Street home for the last year.   So has Jackson Wallace.

“I like it.  It’s comfortable,” says Wallace.

Rent costs $508.  Most receive some kind of assistance and make a few bucks where they can.

“I pick up pop cans.  They’re worth a nickel and everyone is just throwing their nickels away, well hey, I’m going to pick them up and they add up,” he says.

It will take a lot of can collecting to make up a $50 difference in rental assistance.

“The rent isn’t changing, but some tenants, their portion is changing because our assistance can’t be as much,” says YMCA Supportive Housing Campus Executive Director Emily Osweiler.

Rental assistance is funded by private donations.   Osweiler says there’s a big difference in what they’re bringing in and paying out.

“The generous support came in last fiscal year at about $170,000 a year.  But we distributed about $390,000 in YMCA rental assistance,” says Osweiler.

Starting March 1st, instead of up to $308 dollars a month, the Y will provide a maximum of $258 in rental assistance.  It only applies to new leases.  Existing tenants don’t have to worry about the change until their lease is up.

“A person that has no money, 50 bucks is like a million,” says Wallace.

“A lot of people ain’t gonna be able to afford it,” says Williams.

YMCA officials say they’re still helping people pay the rent.

“Our #1 goal is for people to maintain permanent housing – whether it’s with us or the next level,” says Osweiler.

Tenants like Wallace can`t help but worry what happens if they can’t afford it. “If they put me out, then I’m back on the streets and I’m not liking living there. “

The 140-room facility opened in July 2011.  Tonight, it’s full with a 40 person waiting list.

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