Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Willis Dady

May 03, 2019 | United Way Team

Learn more about our funded partner, Willis Dady, and how they’re making a difference in our community.Our funded partners cover a lot of ground in East Central Iowa, providing a variety of services to those who need it most. This month we’re learning more about Willis Dady, whose vision is to empower clients to break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient.

Willis Dady Homeless Services (resized)-2Although the main goal is to help as many people as possible avoid needing shelter, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Willis Dady’s Emergency Shelter is a safe and welcoming environment that promotes and supports the hard work of finding permanent, stable housing.

But Willis Dady is more than just a shelter.

Willis-DadyTo truly break the cycle of homelessness, Willis Dady has each client meet with a case manager at least once each week during their stay in addition to providing programs and community connections that help them find a path to stability.

“Eighty-percent of people who are here just need a safe place to get back on their feet and some help locating resources,” said Phoebe Trepp, Willis Dady’s Executive Director. “I feel really lucky to have such a strong relationship with other agencies in the area [to best support our clients].”

Last year brought a lot of new for Willis Dady. In addition to kicking off a renovation and expansion project (estimated to be completed by this fall!), the agency started five programs:

  • Rapid Re-Housing: Provides short-term rental assistance to individuals and families currently experiencing actual homelessness.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: For individuals and families who have experienced repeated homelessness and have multiple barriers to securing housing. 

  • Street Outreach: In the past you couldn’t get into a rapid re-housing program unless you were in a shelter, but this program has helped up to 60 individuals living on the streets take the first steps toward finding resources and receiving support.
  • Veteran Grant Per Diem: Allowed Willis Dady to set aside 10 beds for homeless Veterans and hire a full-time case manager to focus on the homeless Vet population.
  • Employment Program: A collaboration with Catherine McAuley Center and Frontier Co-op, providing individuals from both agencies the opportunity to secure full-time work.

“We had a busy year, but it’s been good change,” said Trepp. The new building brings the agency’s first-ever industrial sized washer and dryer, check-in room, and elevator, and the programs are filling gaps in our community to support homeless individuals.

“Instead of just saying to someone, ‘okay, now go get a job,’ we are able to provide resources and one-on-one support to really help them find some stability,” said Trepp. “It’s been great to see how these programs are truly impacting peoples’ lives.”