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Who We Are

Mission & History

Our Mission

Since 1992, Central Iowa Shelter & Services’ mission is to provide low-barrier shelter, meals and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness and to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency.

Approximately 2,000 women and men experiencing homelessness have received emergency shelter and supportive services to help them move beyond homelessness each year. 

In September 2012, CISS opened its new facility. The facility grew from being 8,000 square feet and 96 beds to 207 beds and 42,000 square feet. It is equipped to provide expanded emergency shelter (150 beds); expanded transitional housing for Veterans (19 rooms); and Section 8 Project-Based Voucher efficiency apartments (38 rooms). Along with expanded housing capacity, CISS also provides an on-site health clinic, food pantry, clothing closet, classrooms, and a 30-foot growing dome.

All guests and residents are provided evening and breakfast meals; access to shower and laundry facilities, a weekly medical clinic, and group counseling; as well as individualized case management, life skills instruction, and referrals to other community services/benefits. 

Programming continues to evolve to meet emerging homeless and community needs. 

Our History

In the early 1990s, five men died on the streets of Des Moines. They were intoxicated and denied stay at other shelters in the area at the time. It was winter, and with nowhere else to go, they slept outside and didn’t make it through the night. A group of eight churches recognized the problem and joined efforts to create Churches United, a travelling winter homeless shelter. Each week, one of the eight churches would host anyone needing a place to stay, filling them with breakfast and dinner each day.

After realizing the travelling homeless shelter model couldn’t be a permanent solution, Churches United raised funds to construct a building in downtown Des Moines. Emergency shelter, a veterans dorm, meals, and case management were available in that building from 1995-2012.

In 2006, our name changed from Churches United to Central Iowa Shelter & Services to more clearly communicate who we are and what we do. Then, in 2012, we relocated across the street to the 42,000 square foot building we’re in today.

Our Impact This Year

  • Number of People Served This Year


  • Lbs harvested from Mulberry Farms & Food This Year


© 2022 Central Iowa Shelter & Services