Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) Building Expansion and Agri-Hood

Due to a shortage of affordable housing, Central Iowa Shelter & Services is working to provide homeless individuals the opportunity to focus on their health and goals.

Des Moines, Iowa

Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) Building Expansion and Agri-Hood

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At A Glance

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

FHLB Des Moines Member: Freedom Financial Bank

The Impact: Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) is looking to expand its facilities and create a food secure community through the creation of a downtown urban farm. The Agri-hood development will provide more job opportunities for those utilizing the emergency shelter and help fulfill CISS’s mission to help those experiencing homelessness move toward self-sufficiency.

The Need: There has been an increase in chronically homeless individuals due to the shortage of affordable housing within the Des Moines area. Consistently operating in overflow, CISS is continuing to expand its current housing and urban farm operations to meet the increased demand. Through expansion and development, CISS is also looking to address the growing need for access to healthy food in the state of Iowa.

The Results: With the expansion of the urban farm, and with the creation of the new Agri-hood, the organization will at minimum double the job opportunities for these individuals while providing CISS 60% of their program meals along with providing healthy meals to the Iowa food bank. The overflow of fish and fresh produce would then be provided to local grocery stores to meet the state's need for healthier options.

The Key Players: Freedom Financial Bank, Central Iowa Shelter & Services

The Full Story

Since 1992, CISS, the largest homeless shelter in the state of Iowa, has developed a one-stop-shop for individuals experiencing homeless within Central Iowa. CISS's mission is to provide low-barrier shelter, meals, and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness and to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency.

Being the only emergency shelter to provide comprehensive services for adults, and women unaccompanied by children, CISS assists those experiencing long-term, chronic, or temporary homelessness. Along with their ability to shelter these individuals, they also provide services such as an emergency food pantry, clothing closet, job training programs, medical and dental care, and meals through their Community Kitchen.

Due to the decrease in affordable housing within the Des Moines Metro, the capacity to serve the needs of the homeless population at the main CISS facility is becoming increasingly difficult. To address the growing demand, CISS is continuing to expand their number of beds, along with their greenhouse and gardens to create a new Agri-hood.

CISS has already started the expansion process, which has added 24 housing units next to their current facility to help those individuals in need. Housing is a cost-effective and humane solution to overcome homelessness, providing a stable environment for individuals to focus on their health and/or current personal challenges. By removing the stress of shelter from these, the organization can provide homeless individuals the space to better manage their health and focus on achieving their goals.

Expanding the greenhouse and gardens into a new downtown urban farm will help address the lack of healthy food available to those experiencing homelessness and begin the creation of a broader Agri-hood. The Agri-hood will create at least 26 positions where individuals experiencing homelessness can learn a new skill set and earn a paycheck.

The long-term goal of the expansion and development of the Agri-hood is to support 60% of their own program’s meals, provide 10% of the Food Bank of Iowa’s food needs, along with the organization's ability to sell food and fish to local grocery stores to meet the needs of the state.

As CISS continues the expansion of their building and Agri-hood, the goal is to continue meeting the needs of those experiencing chronic, long-term, or temporary homelessness and provide them the necessary safe space to help facilitate their move towards self-sufficiency