2021 Iowa/Nebraska Peer-to-Peer Homelessness Symposium

April 28, 2021 to April 29, 2021

There is no cost to attend. Seats are limited. 

Click here to register.

If you have questions, contact Julie Sleeper at 515-284-4366 or via email.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Des Moines and Omaha Field Offices and local partners are proud to announce this year's Annual Iowa/Nebraska Peer-to-Peer Homeless Symposium. This no-charge virtual symposium will bring together local, regional, and national homeless service professionals to share their knowledge on homeless policy initiatives and programs.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021
8:30 amWelcome and Service Provider Recognition
9 amPromising Partnerships in Providing Health Care for People Experiencing Homelessness
10:20 amLegal Aid Panel
11:35 amAdjourn
Thursday, April 29, 2021
8:45 amWelcome
9 amImpact of Brain Injury on People Experiencing Homelessness
10:20 amStrategic Planning/Impact of COVID
11:35 amClosing Comments
11:45 amAdjourn
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 5.25 CE Contact Hour(s)
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
04/28/2021 - 8:30am CDT
Event ends: 
04/29/2021 - 11:45am CDT

Eric Burmeister is the Executive Director of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund. The PCHTF is the comprehensive planning, advocacy and funding organization for affordable housing in Polk County (greater Des Moines), Iowa. Burmeister joined the Housing Trust Fund in 2010 after a thirty year career in real estate development and finance. A graduate of Drake University Law School he has represented developers of notable commercial and residential redevelopment projects in the metro area, including, the historic Kirkwood Hotel and the Brown Camp Lofts. Burmeister has a long history of involvement in the Des Moines community, serving in leadership positions with The Polk-Des Moines Taxpayers’ Association, The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and the Board of Trustees of Grand View University where he also teaches part-time. Eric serves on numerous community committees as a representative for affordable housing issues.

Jeff Chambers is a rural sociologist with over 25 years of system planning and implementation development work and research and evaluation experience focused on community systems and services, basic and emergency needs, child and family services, and homelessness. He directs the Community Services Division at CCFL which includes planning for the City of Lincoln and Nebraska Balance of State Continua of Care, Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and the All Doors Lead Home Homeless Coordinated Entry system.  In the past year Jeff has lead efforts in the City of Lincoln and Balance of State in the planning, development, and implementation of prevention assistance programming associated with COVID-19 response. 

Michael Durham has served the National Health Care for the Homeless Council since 2013. He manages technical assistance for organizations serving people experiencing homelessness nationwide through a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration and other projects. Michael is a Board member and Secretary at the Village at Glencliff, a new medical respite and transitional housing provider in Nashville, and also serves on the Nashville Continuum of Care’s Racial Equity and Diversity committee. Michael regularly speaks to national and local audiences on structural analyses of homelessness and poverty, human rights, health disparities, and topics related to Diversity/Equity/Inclusion. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School where he focused his studies on interfaith activism. He resides in the neighborhood in which he grew up in East Nashville, along with his two children, Genevieve, and Adelaide. 

Scott Mertz is based out of Omaha, NE. He is a 2009 graduate of the University of Creighton School of Law. He has worked at Legal Aid of Nebraska since 2009 and is currently the managing attorney of Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Housing Justice Project. 

Melissa O'Neil - Leading with passion and purpose, Melissa has worked in different leadership capacities in the non-profit community for over 20 years. In 2016 Melissa was inducted into the Clarion University Hall of Fame. She was a member of the 2019 Business Record Forty under Forty and was selected as a panelist for the 90 Ideas in 90 minutes. She has her BS in Communication from the Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 2001 and her MS in Advertising from Syracuse University in 2003. Melissa resides in Indianola with her husband, Jeremy, her daughter Katie, her son Patrick, and a big, lovable Weimaraner names Mia. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys working out, gardening, fishing, and hiking. She also volunteers her time teaching religious education at St. Thomas Aquinas with her daughter and chairing her son's Cub Scout troop.

Nick Smithberg became Iowa Legal Aid’s Executive Director in January 2018. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Southern California Law Center and began his law career with South Brooklyn Legal Services, working as a staff attorney in the housing unit. Prior to law school, Nick worked in the film production industry. He most recently worked with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs as deputy general counsel and executive director of the Paid Sick Leave and Commuter Benefits Divisions.  

Caitlin Synovec, OTD, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with clinical experience in working with adults experiencing homelessness to improve quality of life and engagement in their preferred communities. She has completed clinical research to address the intersection of homelessness, poverty, traumatic brain injury, mental health, and chronic conditions, and their impact on health and community living. Caitlin's experience also includes program development for collaborative and interdisciplinary care, as well as clinical education and training for occupational therapy practitioners, health care and direct service providers. Most recently, she has joined the National Health Care for the Homeless Council as the program manager for Medical Respite to support expansion and best practices in medical respite care.

Available Credit

  • 5.25 CE Contact Hour(s)


Please login or Create an Account to take this course.

There is no cost to attend. Seats are limited. 

Click here to register.

If you have questions, contact Julie Sleeper at 515-284-4366 or via email.