New Program Bridges Gap Between Supportive Housing and Independence

DES MOINES, Iowa –A new program is helping bridge the gap between supportive housing and finding your own place.

Daniel Mundt recently opened the door to his next chapter. "It's hard to put into words," he said.

He moved into his new one bedroom, one bath apartment on Court Avenue. "I like the area, and I like the serenity I have here."

He hasn't always had a place to call his own. For many years, mental illness and a lack of support had him bouncing around from place to place. "I can remember the first, first time being down at the campus in my apartment and just opening up the cupboard, and I had my own food, not having to ask anybody if I could eat it or not. And, tears came down my eyes," he said.

He lived at the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus for six years. It has 140 efficiency apartments. In addition to providing rental assistance, the program offers supportive services, like case managers and an on-site food pantry. The campus opened downtown eight years ago.

"We are what's called permanent supportive housing. It's a permanent apartment with no time limit. It's safe. It's affordable. People sign leases. They pay rent. They're building a rental history," said Executive Director Emily Osweiler.

The problem is when people move out, they lose the rental assistance and support services. That's why they started a new “Graduate Program.” It provides a safety net while people move on.

“It's a three year program. So the first year, rental assistance would be up to $250 a month, the second year would be up to $100 a month, and the third year there is no rental assistance, but all the while they're basically an off campus resident," said Osweiler.

Mundt is the second person to move out as part of the graduate program. It’s a pilot project and has funding for five people currently. Osweiler said, “I’m hopeful this program just grows and grows because for everyone that moves out, we’ve got someone that can move in as well. It’s two lives being impacted.”

It's already helped Mundt as he gets used to his new home sweet home. "Right now it's just to enjoy life and enjoy all this, take it in, keep doing what i'm doing," he said.

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