A project to bring permanent supportive housing to Nome, for those who are unsheltered, is making progress as summer is upon us, but fall and winter beckon.
Construction on the Homeplate Nome Apartments, which will located on Nathan Barron Alley, began in May. Previously, pilings were set in October 2022. Framing materials also arrived late last year and have been in storage over the winter.
Scott Niblack is the project developer. He says the entire project, comprising 15 apartments, is on schedule.
“We’re up there monthly to do our site visits,” Niblack said. “We inspect the work and make sure that we’re keeping up with any kind of issues that may come through during construction.”
Niblack says the barge schedule can determine the construction timeline, as his crews are dependent on barge traffic.
“Our rafters are stuck on the barge, so we had to send a crew home for a couple of days,” Niblack said. “We’re hoping that we can get those in about two days and finish the roof, and hopefully get it dried in over the next month or so.”
Nome Community Center (NCC) has been leading the project from its inception in 2018. A wet shelter, the Nome Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) has operated seasonally since 2017. The two facilities will complement each other, with Homeplate Nome serving a need for longer-term housing.
Nome Community Center’s Shoni Evan says there are currently nine housing sites scattered across the city for those experiencing homelessness.
“We will continue the nine scattered sites, and then in addition we’ll have the 15 apartments,” Evans said.
Evans says the new Homeplate apartments will add stability for the chronically unhoused in Nome.
“We have 33 chronic homeless on our streets in Nome right now,” Evans said. “To be chronic homeless, you have to be homeless three years or more, so these are people who have been on the streets a long time. We’re going to be able to get 24 of those 33 housed within the two programs.”
According to a newsletter statement from NCC, nearly 20 funding partners are in place to fulfill the financial requirements of the project. The project is proposed to cost $9.8 million.
In 2020, NCC approached Senator Lisa Murkowski for appropriations to fund the project at nearly $5 million for a sixteen-unit structure. The pandemic and the increase in the cost of building-related labor and materials nearly doubled the cost of the project.
The current timeline for completion of the project is December 2023.
Image at top: Homeplate Nome Apartments will help supplement housing and assist patrons at the NEST shelter in downtown. Photo by Greg Knight/KNOM