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How a Passion for Justice Became a Passion for Affordable Housing - October 8, 2013

My dad told me when I was a young girl that a person has no right to complain if they are not involved.  Perhaps I’ve not fulfilled the obligations inherent in that statement, but I’ve never forgotten the message.  Dad died 38 years ago, and I try to keep his commitment to civic involvement alive.

Our world of civic involvement was a rural community in northwestern Nebraska.  In that world it was not hard to imagine that one individual might be able to have a positive impact on the community.  As my “world” grew, I became more and more aware of economic and social barriers that were impacting the lives of others.  My awareness turned into a passion for justice, which turned into a trip to law school and a decade of civil rights litigation, followed by over twenty years as a business and securities lawyer.  My legal practice has changed, but the passion for justice is still there.

I’m new to Des Moines, having moved here to join the Davis Brown firm only 17 years ago.  Looking for service opportunities, I sought out Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.  They welcomed me and I was lucky enough to serve on the board for eight and a half years. It was there I saw firsthand how hard families worked to achieve their dream of home ownership and the positive impact their stable homes made in their lives, their neighborhoods and our shared community.  Upon terming out of the Habitat Board, I knew I wanted to continue my support of affordable housing and was fortunate enough to be welcomed to the Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s Board where we focus on making a difference through planning, advocacy and funding.

Given my 35 years of lawyering, it probably comes as no surprise that at the top of my list of “must haves” related to providing affordable housing are good policies, thorough research and a clear path or vision for what needs to be accomplished. The PCHTF Governance Committee I serve on just finished our assessment and recommendations for organizational goals which will be reviewed by the PCHTF Board this month.  The PCHTF commissioned Iowa State University to research and provide an assessment of inventory of affordable housing and how existing supply matches with the existing and future needs here in Polk County. We expect to receive the final report this spring.  And the PCHTF’s mission supports several community initiatives such as The Tomorrow Plan and Capital Crossroads where work is underway to ensure a quality of life that among other things includes a place to live, employment, and a safe and supportive community.

I’m trying hard to preserve my right to complain by being involved.  If you are looking for ways to be involved and to make a positive impact on the world, those opportunities are all around us.  To those who support the mission of affordable housing, thank you.


This article was taken from the Polk County Housing Trust Fund's e-newsletter. Ms. Evans is a member of the PCHTF Board of Directors.