by J.O. Parker
A Poweshiek County women with a passion to help others was recently recognized for her work in helping homeless families secure housing.
Susan Hiner, executive director of Grinnell Housing Authority, was honored as a “Heroes for the Homeless” by the Central Iowa Shelter and Services of Des Moines. Hiner was one of four people recognized at an event held on April 22 at the Surety Hotel in Des Moines.
At GHA, Hiner processes Section 8 housing applications from start to finish. She also handles onsite inspections, renewals and overseeing all financial aspects of the program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In addition, Hiner works with Amber Tompkins, director of the Rolling Hills Coalition, a 15-county outreach of Central Iowa Shelter and Services, that makes services for people experiencing homelessness more accessible to allow them to stay in their own community.
Counties served through the coalition include: Poweshiek, Jasper, Iowa, Warren, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Jefferson, Davis, Appanoose, Lucas, Wayne, Van Buren, Wapello and Monroe.
The coalition provides case management, street outreach, housing and community resources navigation and rapid rehousing.
“When my children were young, I always told them, greet everyone you meet, you may be the only person that gives them joy,” she said.
Hiner has always had a giving heart and noted several instances of giving food, including a bucket of chicken and cash to the homeless person on the side of the road and once hiking across a mall to give a man and his dog some water on a hot summer day.
Her biggest joy, she said, was in March following the Iowa Boys High School Basketball Championship games she had attended with her son, Chay.
“We were going down Hubbell Avenue,” she said. “At the stop light, a man was standing with a sign. I pulled out some cash and Chay did the same. My heart was overwhelmed that my son also knew the right thing to do is always help someone in need.”
Hiner said she couldn’t do what she does without the help of a support system of friends. She said all it takes is a text and these friends show up with household items for families in need.
“I did not receive this award myself,” Hiner said. “Poweshiek County has several individuals and groups that are working to reduce the homeless situation for individuals and families.”
In addition to her work at the GHA, Hiner works part-time at the Grinnell Public Library. Her grandson, Brayden, believes his grandma has read more books than anyone.
She also obtained a double major in psychology and human services from Buena Vista as a nontraditional student.
In her spare time, Hiner enjoys her flower gardens and canning salsa. She looks forward to her husband, Ken, completing their 1923 Ford T-bucket roadster that he has been building in their shop.