Des Moines nonprofit turning hotel on Merle Hay Road into an affordable housing unit

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The nonprofit Anawim Housing is in the process of buying the current Days Inn located on Merle Hay Road and converting it into an affordable housing unit. 

The Des Moines City Council recently approved an allocation of housing funds to go toward this project. This Days Inn has 73 units which Anawim plans to renovate with kitchenettes. The entire project would cost the nonprofit $4 million. 

Cynthia Latcham, executive director for Anawim Housing, said the affordable housing unit will operate as an apartment complex. Tenants will be expected to pay rent, but no more than 30% of their income. 

“This is a conversion from a hotel or motel to an apartment building where people will hold leases. They will be subject to all the same rules as a lease, Iowa Landlord Tenant Law,” Latcham said. “However, there’s that supportive aspect of the project that is so essential, when we’re serving people who are experiencing homelessness.” 

Anawim has been offering affordable housing in central Iowa for 20 years and manages 250 units scattered across Polk County. However, this Days Inn would be Anawim’s first centralized location. 

“Being able to serve people and offer that behavioral health component, so both mental health and substance use disorder treatment in one location will be really essential for supporting the folks that we’re serving,” Latcham said. “Being able to have job training right there on the premises is going to be really a great aspect of this being in one location.”

Anawim Housing is hoping to finalize the purchase of this Days Inn by the end of the year.

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