Home for the winter

Construction is now well underway on a project to provide housing for those who experience chronic homelessness in Nome.

Nome Community Center (NCC) started the project in 2018. The fifteen apartments, named ‘Homeplate’, will complement a seasonal shelter that the Nome Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) has operated seasonally since 2017. The current timeline for completion is December 2023.

According to NCC’s Shoni Evans, the new apartments will add stability for many of Nome’s most vulnerable. “We have 33 chronically homeless on our streets in Nome right now,” she says. “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.

The project broke ground last year. It takes time: Like most housing projects in Western Alaska, it began with setting pilings, so the foundation and building could be built above-ground. That type of construction prevents it from shifting or sinking as the frozen soil underneath it melts. Above-ground construction began this May.

Project developer Scott Niblack says although the entire project depends on materials being shipped in by barge, construction is on schedule. “We’re up there monthly,” he says. “We inspect the work and make sure that we’re keeping up with any kind of issues that may come through during construction.”

According to a newsletter statement from NCC, nearly 20 different funding partners are in place to foot the estimated $9.8 million bill for the project.

Image at the top: The Homeplate Nome Apartments construction site. Photo by Ava White/KNOM.