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Keeping families housed

by Terri Speirs

IMPACT's team at the Polk County Justice Center
IMPACT deploys a team of six staff experts to assist families at the Polk County Justice Center. On average, they help up to 80 families avoid eviction per day.

Did you know that IMPACT Community Action Partnership has a pop-up office at the Polk County Justice Center? 

It isn’t fancy. Think exposed walls, bare floors, and folding tables. 

But it is crucial. On average, 60-80 evictions are avoided daily. The number can climb to 150 evictions avoided daily at the end of the month or after a holiday, whereby the court docket backs up.

“You don’t know how many tears have happened in this room,” said Diane Hoffman, IMPACT Family Service Specialist. Diane is part of the team of six IMPACT staff based at the Justice Center. “Most people think they’re losing their home.” (Related blog post here.)

Why do so many families face eviction? There are many reasons, and most of them involve simple math. When household income is less than the household expenses, families make hard choices. 

  • Car repair or food?

  • Medicine or heat? 

  • Childcare or rent?

The Stay Housed Program is part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that IMPACT has facilitated since early 2021 on behalf of Polk County and the City of Des Moines. (Related blog post here.)

IMPACT also works to raise additional support to offer housing assistance to families who may not be eligible for the Stay Housed program. For example, the Stay Housed funding is only available through IMPACT in Polk County. We must raise separate funds to serve families in our other counties (Boone, Marion, Warren, and Jasper). This critical funding comes from generous individuals, foundations, United Way campaigns, businesses, congregations, and local government entities. 

Thanks to many generous partners (including you, dear reader!) IMPACT has cultivated a broad base of support to assist families with essential needs in as many ways as possible. Yet there’s more to do. If you’d like to get involved, there are several options:

IMPACT's expanded team at the Justice Center on busier days
When the Polk County eviction court docket is extra long due to a holiday or the end of the month, IMPACT deploys additional staff to process as many Stay Housed applications as possible. This IMPACT team of experts helped 150 families avoid eviction in just one day, the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2023.

Terri Speirs is IMPACT's Chief Development Officer. She can be reached by email at or by telephone at 515-348-4247.


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