LINCOLN–(News Release June 13)–Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today provided an update on Lincoln’s first City-owned permanent supportive housing location, a significant step in her administration’s ongoing efforts to end chronic homelessness, and one of the pillars she announced in her 2023 State of the City address. She announced the selection of Sinclair Hille as the architect and CenterPointe as the operations and services manager for the permanent supportive housing location.

“This announcement underscores how the City of Lincoln and our community are committed to growing an equitable and inclusive city where all residents are safe, healthy, housed, and have the opportunity to thrive,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird.

Permanent supportive housing combines affordable housing with supportive services designed to build independent living and tenancy skills and connect chronically homeless residents with community-based health care, treatment and employment services. Those considered chronically homeless are persons or families with a member that has a long-term disability and has been homeless for 12 months continuously or four times in the past three years.

Also joining Mayor Gaylor Baird at the news conference were Peter Hind, Urban Development Department Director; Dan Grasso, Sinclair Hille Design Architect and Principal; Topher Hansen, CenterPointe President and CEO; Jeff Chambers, UNL Center on Children, Families, and the Law Senior Project Director, and City Councilmember Brodey Weber.

Located at the southwest corner of Eighth and “J” streets, the two-story, 15,000 square-foot building will include:

  • 24 single bed apartments with a shared laundry room
  • Secure entry lobby and reception area
  • Common spaces for gathering, including a covered front porch, kitchen, yard and garden
  • Secure offices and meeting space for the CenterPointe staff
  • Off-street parking for 11 CenterPointe staff and visitors

Construction of the apartment building is scheduled to begin in October 2024 and is estimated to cost $5.2 million. The project is expected to be completed in late 2025. Funding includes $4.1 million in HOME American Rescue Plan Act funds, and $1 million from State Department of Economic Development ARPA funds. A $292,253 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will assist with supportive services.

Hansen said living without stable housing can drastically worsen health, exacerbate mental illness, make ending problematic substance use difficult, and prevent chronic physical health conditions from being addressed. Although affordable housing is part of the solution, he said some people may need their housing coupled with supportive services to maintain stability.

“CenterPointe’s case managers understand the intersectionality between mental health and substance use disorders and homelessness and work tirelessly to meet the complex needs of all program participants,” Hansen said.

Hansen said referrals for admissions to the project will be exclusively from Lincoln’s Continuum of Care and the All Doors Lead Home coordinated entry system. The Lincoln Housing Authority is partnering with the City to provide Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to provide rent assistance.

Case managers, maintenance staff, and security personnel for the supportive services will be available to provide 24-hour staffing, seven days a week. Residents will also be able to access services including physical health, pharmacy, counseling, and crisis support at CenterPointe’s Campus for Health and Wellbeing, 2202 South 11th St.

Chambers said that while overall homelessness has decreased in Lincoln over the last seven years, the percentage of those experiencing chronic homelessness has increased from 12% to 24%. Persons who are chronically homeless use emergency and acute care systems more frequently, such as hospitals, fire and rescue, community corrections, and mental and behavioral health.

Chambers cited a recent study by the UNL-Center on Children, Families, and the Law that examined 24 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Lincoln. He said a conservative estimate of the value of emergency and acute care systems used by those 24 residents over a 3-year period was more than $2.5 million.

Permanent supportive housing is not only the most effective way to ending chronic homelessness, Chambers said, it can reduce service costs borne by the community by up to 60%.

“This project works on multiple levels. Improving individual and community quality of life for all Lincoln residents, reducing homelessness, and decreasing costs to the Lincoln community,” Chambers said. “The City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Continuum of Care are continuing the important work to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.”

Hind said that although the design of the first City-owned permanent supportive housing project is based on proven models in other cities, it is reflective of the community’s needs, based on dignity, is durable, and is responsive to Lincoln’s environment and context.

“This permanent solution to chronic homelessness is evidence of our unwavering commitment to creating solutions that ensure everyone in Lincoln has a place to call home,” Hind said.

Weber praised the community partners’ work to create a facility that will serve as a tangible solution for those experiencing chronic homelessness across the City with the dignity that all residents deserve.

“The beauty of this project is that it understands that a home is the foundation, but that support services are absolutely critical to success,” Weber said.