Former hotel becomes shelter for homeless adults 65+, with serious medical issues

Omaha nonprofit Together has seen a surge in the need for assistance throughout the pandemic. From its food pantry, to rapid re-housing efforts and street outreach, the organization has offered help to countless people. Now, Together is bringing a first-of-its-kind shelter to the metro, by utilizing an old hotel. “Super excited to share that we’re launching a non-congregate shelter program,” said Together president and CEO Mike Hornacek. Blake Bloomquist, the guest services lead and Eric Webster, intake specialist lead, have seen the property transformed since Together took over ownership in late December. “This whole basement was just full of trash and old beds,” Bloomquist said during a tour. The pair said Together is planning for a salon and small boutique in the basement. Each guest will have their own room, and they’ve already welcomed a small number of people while the renovation continues. Hornacek said once renovations are complete, they’ll have about 58 residences. And the whole facility is meant to serve a specific population. “When we talk about people experiencing homelessness in Omaha, there’s a group of that population, if you will, that sometimes we don’t talk a lot about,” Hornacek said, “and that is people that are 65 and above and have really severe health issues.” Hornacek said that could be anything from asthma to lung disease or cancer. He adds this is the first non-congregate shelter in the metro area, allowing guests to have their own space and an added layer of safety. “To go to a congregation shelter environment, that definitely cannot be the best thing for your health to be exposed to those kinds of germs,” ​​he said. The idea came from a pilot program that ran last year in partnership with two different metro hotels. The need was there, so Together bought a property and moved forward with a permanent shelter. This week, Omaha’s Planning Board approved $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funding for this project.Together said the property was in pretty rough shape when they took it over, and the city was happy to see them take ownership.As for the exact location , the organization wants to protect its residents’ privacy and safety. “With the nature of who’s here, there could be victims of domestic violence. There could be like I said, people that have really severe health issues so we could share that the location is downtown,” Hornacek said. That priority on residents’ well-being is evident from the moment you walk through the door, with meals, laundry and nursing care on-site.Hornacek said the idea is that guests could stay 30-45 days while staff help get them into permanent housing. And he’s optimistic this could be a model for more non-congregate shelters to come. “Hopefully there could be others like it,” he said.

Omaha nonprofit Together has seen a surge in the need for assistance throughout the pandemic.

From its food pantry, to rapid re-housing efforts and street outreach, the organization has offered help to countless people.

Now, Together is bringing a first-of-its-kind shelter to the metro, by utilizing an old hotel.

Super excited to share that we’re launching a non-congregate shelter program,” said Together president and CEO Mike Hornacek.

Blake Bloomquist, the guest services lead and Eric Webster, intake specialist lead, have seen the property transformed since Together took over ownership in late December.

“This whole basement was just full of trash and old beds,” Bloomquist said during a tour.

The pair said Together is planning for a salon and small boutique in the basement.

Each guest will have their own room, and they’ve already welcomed a small number of people while the renovation continues.

Hornacek said once renovations are complete, they’ll have about 58 residences. And the whole facility is meant to serve a specific population.

“When we talk about people experiencing homelessness in Omaha, there’s a group of that population, if you will, that sometimes we don’t talk a lot about,” Hornacek said, “and that is people that are 65 and above and have really severe health issues.”

Hornacek said that could be anything from asthma to lung disease or cancer. He adds this is the first non-congregate shelter in the metro area, allowing guests to have their own space and an added layer of safety.

“To go to a congregation shelter environment, that definitely cannot be the best thing for your health to be exposed to those kinds of germs,” ​​he said.

The idea came from a pilot program that ran last year in partnership with two different metro hotels. The need was there, so Together bought a property and moved forward with a permanent shelter.

This week, Omaha’s Planning Board approved $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funding for this project.

Together said the property was in pretty rough shape when they took it over, and the city was happy to see them take ownership.

As for the exact location, the organization wants to protect its residents’ privacy and safety.

“With the nature of who’s here, there could be victims of domestic violence. There could be like I said, people that have really severe health issues so we could share that the location is downtown,” Hornacek said.

That priority on residents’ well-being is evident from the moment you walk through the door, with meals, laundry and nursing care on-site.

Hornacek said the idea is that guests could stay 30-45 days while staff help get them into permanent housing.

And he’s optimistic this could be a model for more non-congregate shelters to come.

“Hopefully there could be others like it,” he said.

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