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Community Collaboration

Community Vision & Planning


Homeward takes a system-wide approach to homelessness in Polk County by looking at all pieces of the puzzle, identifying community gaps, and leading innovative solutions. We disseminate homelessness data and resources, enabling the Polk County community to engage in partnerships toward ending homelessness. Homeward operates as a hub of strategic planning and expertise on homelessness in these ways: 


  • We work in collaboration with over 100 homelessness organizations and community agencies to  set a coordinated approach to ending homelessness

  • We distribute $4.5 million in federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for  community homeless services

  • We support hardworking homelessness organizations across our county with best practices, training, and problem-solving

  • We partner to collect and analyze data on homelessness in Polk County to make decisions on services and monitor goals 

  •  We advocate and share information with local officials to build systemic, long-term solutions to homelessness and affordable housing


In 2019, Homeward worked with partners, community members, and city and county officials to create a community vision and plan for the homeless system in Polk County.


To learn about the needs of our community and how we can work together to end homelessness, check out  The Path Forward - Community Plan


Youth Homelessness


Our Plan

As part of Polk County's Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, community stakeholders and youth engaged in a comprehensive planning process to prevent and end youth homelessness. Months of planning and partnership have resulted in Polk County's Coordinated Community Plan, a document that outlines our community's strategy to support young people's strengths and needs as they secure safe stable housing. 


For more information or to join in the work to prevent and end youth homelessness,

contact Community Engagement Coordinator Amy Croll at

Youth Homelessness

Demonstration Program (YHDP)


Polk County is a community dedicated to supporting youth and young adults with the resources they need to thrive. As a community, it is our task to ensure there is a clear pathway for young adults to swiftly access appropriate services, thereby making youth homelessness a rare, brief, and nonrecurring experience for Polk County residents.


In 2019, Des Moines/Polk County was awarded a transformative grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to meet this very need. As one of 23 communities nationwide selected for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), Polk County has a unique opportunity to increase resources to prevent and end youth homelessness. YHDP has awarded Polk County $1.86 million ($930,000/yr.) for a two-year demonstration project that displays our community-wide approach to serving youth in innovative ways.


To lead this local effort, the Polk County Continuum of Care has collaborated with key stakeholders across the community, including young people, to develop a number of project types as priorities for YHDP funding. Below, please find additional information about the 2020 YHDP Awards. 

Youth Homelessness Projects

YHDP projects are designed to provide housing options and supportive services for people under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. Crucially, the projects also focus on racial equity and addressing the disproportionate number of black youth who experience homelessness.

The list below represents the YHDP 2020 Grant Recipients for Polk County:


Anawim Housing

$375,464 for Youth Housing Opportunities Program to serve young people with disabilities


Iowa Homeless Youth Centers

$304,178 for Mental Health and Drop-in Services program and $527,448 for Individual and Family Youth Rapid Rehousing Program


Children and Families of Iowa

$364,618 for Transitional Housing/Rapid Rehousing program for youth who have experienced domestic violence


Institute for Community Alliances

$74,940 for Homelessness Information Management System data work to manage grants


Primary Health Care  $162,446 for a Youth Housing Navigator position

YHDP grant projects have been developed in partnership with the greater Des Moines community including Homeward, the City of Des Moines, community health and service providers, youth specific-providers, government partners, HUD, and the Iowa Department of Human Services. The process has also been led by the Youth Action Council, a local group of young people with lived experience in homelessness who will help implement projects and provide feedback to agencies throughout the grant period. Projects are currently serving young people across the community. 


News & Events


Introducing Homeward!

Formerly known as the Polk County Continuum of Care, we are now Homeward! Read about the new brand and how it came to be.


Unsheltered Study

Homeward partnered with Drake University and the Polk County community to learn more about unsheltered homelessness and find solutions. 


Winter 2023
Point-In-Time Count

Homeward partnered with the Polk County community to conduct a January count of the people experiencing homelessness.

Media Inquiries:

For media inquiries, please contact Angie Arthur at 515.282.3233 or

Community Vision & Planning
Youth Action Council
News & Events

Homeless Coordinating Council 


The Polk County Homeless Coordinating Council (HCC) is a workgroup composed of elected officials and nonprofit leaders from across the county. The Council's quarterly meetings allow for collaboration, information sharing, and updates on homelessness resources in the community.  All meetings take place at 12:00pm. For additional information, please contact Angie Arthur here. 

2023 Meeting Dates

  • May 18, 2023

  • August 17, 2023

  • November 16, 2023



Youth Homelessness
Homeless Coordinating Council
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