DES MOINES, Iowa -- Hope Ministries hopes to create a new shelter on Des Moines' east side that would allow them to serve nearly three times as many women and children.
Serving people in Des Moines since 1915, Hope Ministries recognizes the need for services specifically for homeless women and children in our community. They have tried to fill the void with their current women's shelter, but the space isn't adequate.
“We receive an average of about 100 calls every single month from women looking for help and a vast majority of those calls we unfortunately turn away because we are at capacity,” said Kathy Coady, director of Development and Community Relations for Hope Ministries.
That is why they are trying to expand their services with a new facility at the old Douglas Elementary school that is currently occupied by a church.
The proposed new campus could serve up to 100 women and children. Fifty percent of those would be beds for short-term shelter, while the other half would be for their Life Recovery Program. Women and children a part of that program could live at the campus for up to two years.
Nearly tripling their efforts in this area, Hope Ministries said the property is exactly what they need. It is close to public transit, easy to renovate and already has a playground and green space available for children. Some neighboring residents disagree, however.
“The concerns that I heard were property values and their concerns were what are these people going to be doing all day?” Des Moines City Councilwoman Linda Westergaard said.
Westergaard attended a meeting with Hope Ministries and over 200 concerned community members last week.
“We understand that fear of the unknown is a very real thing and we can certainly understand and relate to that,” Coady said.
Hope Ministries said their longstanding history with six current Des Moines locations should help diminish those concerns.
“We have a great track record of being good neighbors and contributing in a positive way to the neighborhood. We know we will be able to do that in a future facility as well,” Coady said.
In order to purchase the property, Hope Ministries needs the property to be rezoned to a planned unit development.
“This actually offers the residents more protection because it gives more specifics on who can be housed and who can't be housed at the facility,” Westergaard said.
This Thursday, the proposal will go through the planning and zoning committee members. The committee will then pass on their recommendations to the city council.
For more information regarding the potential purchase of the property, including information on where children staying at the shelter will attend school, click here.