Anawim Providing Permanent Housing for Homeless Youth in Central Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Polk County’s young adults will soon be safer thanks to a new youth permanent supportive housing program through Anawim Housing.

Anawim Housing in Central Iowa is one of just 23 organizations across the country receiving a $187,000 annual and renewable grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help homeless youth.

This program will provide permanent housing to those who need it ranging from 18-24 years old who also have a mental health condition, substance use disorder, are fleeing domestic violence, or are medically fragile.

Anawim Housing will be working with multiple community partners like primary health care and the Iowa Homeless Youth Center to have a centralized intake. Anawim Housing Executive Director, Cynthia Latcham, said the program is all about providing Des Moines’ area homeless youth a foundation of safety and it starts with a permanent home.

The program will also have services to help with employment, education, and development. Latcham said this supportive permanent housing is different than most because it works in collaboration with these young adults.

“Instead of us telling youth how we need to be working with them, they are going to be telling us how they want us to work with them. That is a complete shift in the paradigm in how we work with youth. It’s called positive youth development, but really it’s giving youth agency, and it’s allowing youth to contribute and say ‘we are the experts of our experiences and we have the right to determine how we live, where we live, and the activities we want to participate in to be the full-fledged human beings that we are designed to be,'” Latcham said.

This grant is in conjunction with the Polk County Continuum of Care’s two-year youth homeless demonstration program.

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