Iowa’s largest homeless shelter plans to nearly double its capacity and offer a host of new programs, including education, mental health services and round-the-clock support.
Tony Timm, executive director of Central Iowa Shelter & Services, says ground will be broken this morning on the new facility in downtown Des Moines.
“Currently, we can house 116 adult men and women and over the last two years, it’s been very apparent that that’s not large enough because we have people sleeping in chairs each night,” Timm says. “Our plan is to build a 40,000 square foot facility just on the south side of our current property that will increase our total beds to 207.” He says the new building will provide homeless central Iowans with a wider array of services.
“With our new facility, we’ll be much more of an opportunity center than shelter-focused,” Timm says. “We’ll be able to expand our GED classroom programs. We’ll have a health care clinic, a food pantry, a clothing closet, an on-site health care facility with mental health services.” The facility will cost $14.5-million and has pledges so far for all but two-million from the city, county, state, various corporations and private donors. Timm says the new shelter will make a difference in the community.
Timm says, “The biggest change is, we’ll become a 24-hour operation where people won’t be asked to leave each morning — like they are now — so they’ll be able to access those programs all day long and then stay with us over the evening hours.” He says the new center will have 38 units that are similar to efficiency apartments for single men or women.
“In addition to being an emergency shelter, we’ll have the ability to permanently house people with a year-long lease at a time,” Timm says.
“Our hope is that in that 12 months, we can build somebody back to the point of self-sufficiency.” Construction of the new building should take about 13 months.