Affordable housing opens in Des Moines’ Sixth Avenue corridor
Thanks to the opening of Sixth Avenue Apartments in Des Moines Thursday.
Five of 42 units at 1230 Sixth Ave. will be reserved for young homeless people aged 18 or over, too old to stay in foster care. Twelve units are for tenants with Section 8 housing vouchers, and the rest are for tenants of all backgrounds who earn no more than 60% of the area’s median income, which in 2021 was $38,346 for a single person, or 30%, which was $19,200 per year.
“We have a group of citizens who don’t have parents. They don’t have anyone to go to,” said Jack Hatch, owner of Hatch Development and a former state senator. He partnered on the project with Michael Kiernan, head of Kiernan Development, and Youth & Shelter Services, a non-profit organization that serves young people through mentoring, drug addiction and crisis housing programs.
YSS is also the lead agency for the Iowa Aftercare Services Network, a statewide program that provides support to youth ages 18-23 who are too old to stay in foster care.
The apartment project “will help kids who don’t have parents to keep dreaming and having a future,” Hatch said.
Young people who live in Sixth Avenue Flats will have a case manager from YSS – who will have an office on the first floor – to help with job searches and other services, as well as rental assistance from Primary Healthcare . In addition, Des Moines Area Community College is committed to providing young people who live in Sixth Avenue Flats with a free college and career orientation course, President Rob Denson said. The building is about half a mile from DMACC and is also on a major bus route.
GreenState Credit Union will also have an office there to help all tenants – and neighbors – with financial management.
Debi Durham, executive director of the Iowa Finance Authority, which gave developers $826,000 in low-income housing tax credits, attended the celebration and praised them for opening doors for young people in the need while setting a standard for affordable housing in the state.
A recent study by the Iowa Finance Authority found that the state needs 47,000 new homes over the next decade to accommodate population growth. Nearly 40% of those units must have affordable rents or mortgages for Iowans earning 80% or less of the area’s median income, which in Iowa is a maximum of $47,964 a year.
“They not only built the gates to the new homes we see today, they built so much more than that,” Durham said. “They have built doors of opportunity, education, jobs and a support system for big dreams and aspirations for the young people who will soon inhabit Sixth Avenue Flats.”
Units are a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 677 to 1,300 square feet. Rent is $600 per month for a one-bedroom unit, $800 for a two-bedroom unit, and $900 for a three-bedroom unit.
In addition to the YSS office, the first floor has six working lofts on the ground floor. Units have street level access, serving as commercial storefronts for tenants living in the unit’s upper floor loft, and pursue a renaissance along the 6th Avenue Corridor business district.
Each unit comes with a washer and dryer, high ceilings, updated appliances, and spacious closets and bedrooms.
“This is what the future of affordable housing looks like,” Hatch said. “And we’re glad it’s starting right here in Des Moines, Iowa.”