On Monday, October 5th, 2021, a fire ravaged Valley West Inn in West Des Moines, an extended-stay hotel that housed more than 150 people. The 3-building complex of Valley West Inn was closed after the fire. Over 50 units were damaged in the blaze, but a total of 127 units have now been abruptly eliminated from the Des Moines Metro area housing stock. The Red Cross provided housing placement services for the people displaced by the fire, securing temporary shelter through other hotels and motels.
Extended-stay hotels like the Valley West Inn are one of the few housing options available for many low-income renters that experience multiple barriers to housing, which limit their access to the conventional rental housing market. These housing units are unique in that they often do not impose credit or background checks, rental history screenings, security deposits, or further financial vetting as a requirement for residency compared to traditional rental housing.
Across the nation, extended-stay hotels are increasingly important housing options for low-income renters, though their prevalence points to a flawed housing system in need of such stop-gap measures. Far from affordable housing units, extended-stays are generally priced above the market rate for conventional apartments, meaning those with less money often are forced to pay more to avoid losing shelter altogether.
What are sustainable solutions that Des Moines can offer to the 150+ displaced residents of Valley West Inn, and to other low-income renters in need of affordable, safe and stable housing in our community?
ABOUT THE STORY
This story is the first of housing story features our team will feature through the month of November. Contact us if you have suggestions for housing stories you want us to blog about.
MIND THE MAP is less than 5 weeks away. Join us on November 29th for an interactive eviction mapping exhibit in-person at the Central Library or virtually.
the unevictIA team