Omaha nonprofit continues work after turning hotel into homeless shelter

Shelters worry about funding shortfalls
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 4:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nonprofits on the front line fighting against homelessness, food insecurity, and other needs for the underserved are concerned about what the new year will bring.

The concern is about funding and if there will be enough to help the growing number of people in need.

What was once a downtown hotel is a bit different now that it is home to an emergency homeless shelter.

“When people first come in they will drop their items off at security to make sure they don’t have any contraband like drugs or alcohol,” said Blake Bloomquist with Together Omaha.

Bloomquist has been working at Together Omaha’s temporary shelter since it opened about a year ago. So far they’ve served about 117 people. With the help of services provided here, 46 have found moved on to find permanent, safe, affordable housing.

But the help provided doesn’t stop there, Together also helps set up their clients with donated clothing and housewares.

“Once they move out we’re able to provide them with some dishes and silverware so they can be ready to be cooking in their new place.”

Clients get their own rooms and medical care is provided. Together President and CEO Mike Hornacek says they help the most vulnerable at this shelter.

“The focus of the non-congregant shelter is those that are 65 and above that may have some special health considerations, medical needs, so it’s always in high demand, especially this time of year as the temperatures drop below freezing,” Hornacek said.

Hornacek says they have had success here, but Together Omaha and other nonprofits working to improve the lives of the underserved are concerned about how they will continue to serve a growing number of people in need.

“As we look at 2023, really across all nonprofits a lot of different programs when you look at food insecurity and housing, the financial picture for 2023 is pretty rough. A lot of organizations like Together, we’ve had a lot of CARES Act and a lot of ARPA funding to help support the increased need that we’ve been supporting for the last three years. All of that CARES Act and ARPA funding is gone.”

Officials are hoping that doesn’t translate into fewer services provided when the need continues to grow.

A group of metro area nonprofits plans to meet soon to discuss their concerns about future funding.