Homelessness continues to be a growing concern in cities across the country. In Iowa, approximately 13,000 people are homeless and served by emergency shelters, transitional housing or rapid rehousing projects. One Des Moines organization is working to change that number one home at a time.

Since 2008, Joppa has helped more than 400 individuals get off the streets through their programming and services. Earlier this year, they made their largest leap forward in their work to end homelessness in Central Iowa by cutting the ribbon on the first Joppa Cottage Home, a 384 square foot, one-bedroom cottage in Des Moines’ Cheatom Park neighborhood.

To end homelessness, we really need a safe, secure place for people to go, out from under a bridge or a tent.

Joppa Cofounder and CEO Joe Stevens

“To end homelessness, we really need a safe, secure place for people to go, out from under a bridge or a tent,” said Joppa Cofounder and CEO Joe Stevens. “They need a permanent home that they can actually afford, and that’s where our Cottage Home vision comes in.”

Joppa Cottage Homes are cost-effective, affordable homes designed for senior citizens, veterans and others living on fixed or part-time incomes. Ranging in size from 200 to 400 square feet, these cottage homes have one to two bedrooms, a living area, kitchen and bathroom. Each home is heated and cooled, and rent averages between $300 to $600 a month, approximately $400 to $600 less than the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Des Moines.

Trilix was honored to help Joppa capture the moment the first Cottage Home resident moved in. Will Winder, a formerly homeless individual, was about to lose the apartment he’d worked hard to afford because of rising rent costs.

“We set up cameras expecting to capture footage of a home build, but what we ended up getting was a glimpse of a life-changing process,” said James Drescher, Trilix senior producer/cinematographer.

The Trilix team captured not only photos and video of the celebration as Joppa presented Will with the keys to a house, but also documented the entire process, from the groundbreaking that took place in November of 2018 to Will’s first steps in his Cottage Home.

Trilix has been a great partner in helping us share and build our story to further our mission in the community.

“We’re impressed and delighted by the effectiveness of the video’s heartfelt storytelling,” said Joe Stevens. “Trilix has been a great partner in helping us share and build our story to further our mission in the community.”

Although the ribbon cutting ceremony is over, Trilix continues to capture and share the stories behind Joppa’s quest to end homelessness through traditional and digital communications work. Before Joppa partnered with us to share these stories, it relied heavily on their small but mighty group of volunteers. Now, those volunteers are able to solely dedicate their time to Joppa’s programs and services and to end homelessness.

These programs and services help homeless people survive and find housing. They address food insecurities, supply and hygiene needs and winter heat solutions, and ensure homeless individuals have the tent, coats, boots or other necessary items. Through camp cleanups Joppa works alongside the homeless to clean up their community and keep camps tidy. Project PJ and other awareness campaigns help Joppa spread its message and increase public knowledge about homelessness. And last, but certainly not least, Joppa KIDS is a program that offers opportunities for children to learn and do something about homelessness.

As Joppa looks to a new year, it is prepared to break ground on two additional Cottage Homes in Will’s neighborhood. Will and the next tenants will also benefit from a community garden, currently in the works.

If it weren’t for Joppa, well, I know where I’d be.

Will Winder, Cottage Home Recipient

“They (Joppa) seen something in me; they seen potential,” said Will Winder. “And it wasn’t about just providing housing. It’s one thing to put a roof over someone’s head, but it’s another thing to teach them how to keep a roof over their head. It’s beyond my imagination. If it weren’t for Joppa, well, I know where I’d be. I feel really fortunate and blessed beyond my imagination.”