wounded warrior housing site photo

An Omaha-based nonprofit, Wounded Warriors Family Support, owns farmground northwest of 120th Street and Rainwood Road in rural Douglas County. The organization proposes to build an assisted living center for wounded military veterans on the north half of the 80-acre site.

U.S. troops wounded in combat who lack the family or financial support to care for themselves at home could soon have another housing option.

The Omaha City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved zoning changes and early plans for the Dunham House, a 40-acre military-focused assisted-living complex.

The first step in the project calls for building an administration building and two housing units near 120th Street and Rainwood Road in northwest Omaha.

Those buildings would house 22 to 24 combat veterans who suffered traumatic brain injuries, with plans to build more housing units and serve as many as 125 veterans.

Wounded warriors interior rendering

An architect's rendering from HDR Inc. shows what the interior of Wounded Warriors Family Support's proposed assisted-living center for wounded veterans might look like.

The veterans served might need help buttoning a shirt, using the bathroom or taking a bath, but could live independently with a little help, organizers said. These veterans don’t need the additional medical support of a nursing home.

Starting construction is contingent on continued private fundraising by Wounded Warriors Family Support, an Omaha-based nonprofit started by retired Marine Col. John Folsom.

His local group raises money nationally to support the families of troops wounded or killed in combat. The group had raised more than $2 million, Folsom said.

It needs to raise about $11 million to make the project a reality. Tuesday’s 7-0 vote to shift future industrial land to residential use was a key step, Folsom said.

Having the zoning and plat approved should help Wounded Warriors Family Support secure more support from donors, Folsom and former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub said.

“This now really paves the way for our efforts to raise money for the first buildings,” Daub said.

Wounded Warriors assisted-living center exterior rendering

An architect's rendering from HDR Inc. shows a concept of what the exterior of a Wounded Warriors Family Support assisted-living center could look like. The nonprofit organization has purchased a site and received city approval on Tuesday. It is raising funds to begin construction.

City Council members Aimee Melton, Brinker Harding and Rich Pahls praised organizers for the nature of the project and the support it has garnered.

Melton said she heard about the project from her son, whose school wrote letters of support for Wounded Warriors Family Support that the group used to raise funds.

Dunham House, if it raises the necessary funds, plans an admissions committee to weigh the needs of applicants with the services it offers.

Wounded Warriors Family Support Inc. bought 80 acres of land at the rural northwest Omaha site for $1 million in January. The 40 acres on the north end of the site will house veterans.

Folsom said his group has not decided what to do with the southern 40 acres but said it might work with someone to turn the land into a nature preserve.

“If we can get Omaha involved, we’re in the center of the country,” Folsom said. “We can attract people from all over, nationally.”

He said he hopes to start construction “as soon as possible.”

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In other action Tuesday, the City Council:

  • Approved spending $7.22 million on rebuilding Crown Point Avenue from North 72nd Street to Blair High Road.

The work will take the four-lane stretch of road near Omaha Northwest High School down to two lanes of traffic, with a turn lane in the middle and four roundabouts.

It also will build a trail by the road as part of the city’s new “Complete Streets” plan that considers the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders, along with drivers.

The pavement needed to be replaced, having been built in 1972, but neighbors have questioned whether it’s wise to reduce the number of traffic lanes.

  • Unanimously approved naming a stretch of Ohio Street from 22nd to 24th Streets after north Omaha educator LaRose R. Beasley.

Beasley operated LaRose’s Beauty Academy for more than a quarter-century, preparing young people for careers in hairstyling and cosmetology.

Councilman Ben Gray joined Daub and several of her students in describing the honor as well-deserved.