DES MOINES, Iowa — For the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission, living in a city that’s good for most just isn’t good enough.

“It’s beautiful and it is ‘Iowa Nice,’ some say where is the Iowa nice because some say all I see is Iowa ugly,” said Negus Rudison-Imhotep who serves as a commission member.

Rudison-Imhotep has been in attendance at several of the five scheduled community conversations aimed to hear the cries of the community. He said, “They want to say recession but we are really in a depression. It just isn’t 1929.”

Monday, concerns at the East Side Library were across the board from police review boards to affordable housing and soaring prices for family necessities. As the city sits at 10 homicides for 2022, Negus says residents are highly concerned. “Public safety because of guns and the guns are cuckoo crazy.”

Rudison-Imhotep says too often the squeaky wheel gets the oil but these conversations are catered to communities that tend to go unheard. “People need help. You go to Hy-Vee and buy a pack of bacon for $10 and you are making $7.50 an hour,” said Rudison-Imhotep.

Like many in attendance, Brad Titus still loves the city but recognizes his experience may be different because of what he is — a white male. “It’s great to live here for me. A great place for me to raise my kids here. It’s not always a great place for some of my kids’ friends or some of my friends’ kids,” Titus said.

Help in various forms is on the way in small doses. While community leaders are praising the brand new Sixth Avenue Flats and its 42 affordable housing units, the National Low Income Housing Coalition says Polk County is still around 7,000 units short of very low and extremely low income affordable housing units. Commission members say these community conversations prove more help is needed. Rudison-Imhotep said, “Poor people are already in a position where they can’t afford and they are looking for answers to that.”

These are community conversations that could help to lift every voice. “If Des Moines would do that, Des Moines would be a beam of light in the middle of darkness,” said Rudison-Imhotep.

The final community conversation is scheduled for Saturday, July 30 at East High School from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. It will be conducted in Spanish with English translation available.