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The new $18 million, 450-bed Siena Francis House emergency shelter is at 1117 N. 17th St.

Service organizations and Omaha philanthropy have come together to create important new opportunities at Siena Francis House to better help the homeless. The longtime service organization has opened an $18 million emergency shelter with enhanced amenities and services for those in need.

The 450-bed facility includes a commercial kitchen, large dining area, clothing room and dock for receiving donated items. The shelter provides office space for case management staff and support organizations such as Heartland Family Services.

The existing overnight shelter will be renovated as an addiction recovery center. That project will be made possible through an additional $12 million in local philanthropic donations coordinated by the nonprofit Heritage Services. This generous charitable support is a stellar example of the community good achieved through Omaha-area philanthropy.

City government provided $2.5 million from its redevelopment fund for demolition and cleanup of a salvage yard that had occupied the location of the new emergency shelter.

Linda Twomey, the Siena Francis executive director, rightly calls these projects “a huge game changer” that will place services together and provide efficiencies.

The Omaha/Council Bluffs area is benefiting from several stepped-up efforts to help homeless children and adults. The Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, consisting of 20 member organizations in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie Counties, has received increased federal support from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, reflecting the capable performance of local service organizations. Similarly, several local and federal partner organizations have come together to provide housing and services for homeless veterans at Victory Apartments 1, 825 Dorcas St. Burlington Capital Real Estate is following up with plans to renovate another 60 apartments next door.

Siena Francis House, meanwhile, continues in the local vanguard to help the homeless. The new projects for this respected service organization are a testament to the civic commitment of Omaha-area donors and, above all, to the dedication and vision of service professionals working to ensure quality support for vulnerable individuals.

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