AMES, Iowa — Local and national experts on homelessness will come together to explore housing policies, programs and other issues surrounding homelessness in a symposium Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Iowa State University.

The “Homelessness Symposium: Perspectives from Iowa and Around the Country” is a daylong event featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions, student presentations and a screening of “Push,” a documentary on the global housing crisis.

Hosted by the ISU College of Design with support from the Gordon Family Endowment, the symposium is organized by faculty in the ISU Department of Community and Regional Planning: associate professor Jane Rongerude, whose research focuses on the redevelopment of public housing and urban systems of poverty management; assistant professor Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, who studies gentrification and the remaking of historic neighborhoods in college towns; and assistant professor Daniel Kuhlmann, who studies housing policy.

“It’s impossible to be interested in housing policy without interest in issues related to precarious housing situations and homelessness,” Kuhlmann said. Organizers hope this symposium can identify new avenues for coursework, research, collaborative initiatives and future programming around homelessness.

Location and registration

The free event will begin at the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center, and move to the College of Design building on campus after lunch. Participants are asked to register online by Wednesday, Dec. 4, to provide an accurate count for meals.

The morning will include talks by national housing and homelessness experts Josh Leopold and Kimberly Skobba and panel discussions with local community leaders. The afternoon will feature presentations by architecture, community and regional planning and civil engineering students in Rongerude’s “Contemporary Issues in Global Housing” class and the documentary film screening and discussion. The film screening is open to the public without registering for the symposium.

About the speakers

Leopold is a senior research associate for the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. His work focuses on affordable housing policy and homelessness. Leopold received a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in 2003 and a master’s degree in information science from the University of Michigan in 2005. From 2006 to 2011, he worked as an analyst for Abt Associates, where he was heavily involved in research regarding homelessness solutions. Before joining the Urban Institute in 2013, he was also the management and program analyst at the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Skobba is an associate professor in financial planning, housing and consumer economics and director of the Housing and Demographic Research Center at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on housing needs of low-income families and the relationship between community development and social capital in rural and small towns. She holds a bachelor of arts in communications from Augsburg College and received both a master of arts and a PhD in design, housing and apparel from the University of Minnesota.

Panelists include Angie Arthur, executive director of Polk County Continuum of Care; Eric Burmeister, executive director of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund; Marileigh Fisher, housing director for Community Housing Initiatives; Amber Lewis, homeless programs manager, Iowa Finance Authority; and Emily Osweiler, executive director of the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus in Des Moines.


Scheman Building

8–8:30 a.m.: Registration and breakfast

8:30–9 a.m.: Welcome

9–10:45 a.m.: Josh Leopold keynote and “Housing Policy and Homelessness” panel discussion

10:45–11 a.m.: Break

11a.m.–12:45 p.m.: Kimberly Skobba keynote and “Homelessness Programs in Iowa” panel discussion

12:45–1:30 p.m.: Lunch (indicate dietary restrictions/preferences when registering)

College of Design

2:15–4 p.m.: Student case-study presentations: Housing precarity and innovative solutions to increase access to safe and sanitary housing for all, Room 130 College of Design

4:15–5:30 p.m.: Push film screening and discussion, Kocimski Auditorium, Room 101 College of Design



Daniel Kuhlmann, Community and Regional Planning, (515) 294-5470, dok@iastate.edu
Hailey Allen, Design Communications, hallen15@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu