Advocates for the Homeless Voice Concerns Over Evictions at City Council Meeting

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Advocates for the homeless made their voices heard outside of a City Council meeting Monday and inside as well.

“We`re not talking about the city`s eviction of its homeless in the abstract. We are talking about evictions that you`ve scheduled for a week from now,” said Patrick Stall of the Des Moines Workers` Alliance.

The protesters are calling the evictions of the homeless cruel and blight on the city.

“All the city really does by kicking these people out of their camps is moving the problem around, not solving homelessness,” said Phoebe Clark of the Des Moines Workers` Alliance.

“The real mark of a great city is how it treats the people in the community who are the most vulnerable and what we`re seeing right now is that our most vulnerable people are not being treated well,” said Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs of the Des Moines Catholic Worker.

Councilman Chris Coleman acknowledges there's room for improvement on the issue, but says homelessness in Des Moines is on the decline.

“We can`t fall into the trap that we`re not doing really good work,” he said. “As it stands right now as a community, I’m really proud of those people that are on the front line decreasing those numbers.”

One of those people on the front lines is Joe Stevens, the CEO and co-founder of the faith-based outreach organization, Joppa.

“I would suggest that maybe part of the work that we need to do in continuing is to work with Joppa, who cares for these people at night,” said Stevens.  “The total cost of this home is $6,500.”

Stevens says tiny homes could be an answer to the problem of homelessness in central Iowa.

“We can get these built with volunteers help and with money from the community,” he said. “It doesn`t have to cost the government any more money than what they`re spending right now. So, that`s really the beauty. You have tiny homes, you put them in a village with programs and services to actually help people overcome their issues and you provide a sense of community that gives them that support structure they need to actually rebuild their lives.”

Stevens says it`s not a matter of going to a shelter after getting evicted, because and he says a lot of people don't realize this, you are only allowed to stay at a shelter for so long, which means for many homeless people , they really have absolutely have no place to go.