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Local Homeless Shelter Struggles to Find Families Permanent Housing Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


DES MOINES, Iowa — Hawthorn Hill’s New Directions Shelter is a temporary shelter for families with children experiencing homelessness that also aids families with finding permanent homes.  In order to help these individuals, the adults in the household need to find reliable employment. Which with the COVID-19 outbreak, has been a challenge.

“Right now, nobody’s hiring, at least very few. So that employment piece that we need to typically have with the families for them to be able to get into permanent housing is really kind of missing,” Executive Director, Tim Shanahan said. 

Typically the shelter holds eight families at a time for a 30 day period, 

With 30 to 60 families on the waiting list. Shanahan said they’ve seen a drastic drop on their waiting list since the start of the pandemic, but the shelter’s turnover time for housing families has significantly decreased. 

Hawthorn Hill’s biggest concern right now is keeping staff and families safe from the virus by practicing social distancing and keeping their facilities as clean as possible. 

According to Shanahan, closing their doors isn’t an option. 

“The eight families that we have with us right now, where would they go? They may not have any place to go. If they have a car they might have to stay in their car, or they might have to go into maybe more of an unsafe situation,” Shanahan said. “So it’s very important that we’re open.” 

Hawthorn Hill New Direction Shelter is currently in need of essential goods to keep families and staff safe. To learn more about donating, visit their website


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