top of page

Willis Dady Works Public Announcement

Willis Dady Announces Willis Dady Works Employment Hub and Supportive Housing

Officials of Willis Dady Homeless Services are announcing an expansion to their Employment and Housing programs. Willis Dady Works will address two major gaps in Linn County: the need for permanent supportive housing for individuals and families and the need for more low-barrier entry-level job positions for people coming out of or experiencing homelessness in Linn County.

“Earned income is the primary resource needed to escape homelessness and maintain stable housing,” said Emily Zimmon, Development Director at Willis Dady. During the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment rose higher than it did in the two years of the Great Recession. Willis Dady Works hopes to provide a low-barrier work environment for individuals experiencing homelessness to build stability and move them into long-term stable housing.

In August 2019 Willis Dady received a generous anonymous donation for the purchase of 800 1st Ave NW where they could host their employment initiatives, begin producing goods, and provide essential workforce training opportunities. In addition, the agency has been awarded a matching grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation, the Brownfield Tax Credit award from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, a Federal Home Loan Bank grant sponsored by First Federal Credit Union, and numerous pledges from companies and individuals to support the project.

Plans for construction and remodel include the former Chandler Pump building in Cedar Rapids, with construction beginning in December of 2021. The Chandler building received extensive damage during the August derecho, and Willis Dady officials are now moving forward with their construction team to restore the building and provide permanent supportive housing.

From 2017-2018, 81 families in our region were flagged as needing supportive housing, yet our community only has three units available. At the end of the 3-wave construction plan, the Chandler Pump building will contain 13 units of supportive housing for individuals and families leaving homelessness.

At one time Willis Dady simply provided shelter. Now we are active in preventing and ending homelessness with lasting outcomes for 1,500- 2,000 clients per year. We work to meet the needs of people across a spectrum of housing crises, with the goal of becoming stably and safely housed in our community. This often requires securing income through employment or benefits, accessing ongoing mental and physical health care, and finding rental housing our clients can sustain. Willis Dady Works will be a bridge to help individuals enter the workforce, receive ongoing case-management, have a safe place to stay, and build stability for years to come.

Willis Dady Homeless Services was founded in 1987. Our mission is to provide shelter, employment and prevention services to the homeless and near-homeless, with the vision of empowering clients to break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient.

Check out our project flyer below:

Download PDF • 3.47MB

For questions or comments about Willis Dady Works, please reach out to:

Emily Zimmon, Development Director at

Alicia Faust, Executive Director at


bottom of page