A project to build permanent supportive housing in Nome is making significant progress towards the building’s completion as winter quickly approaches in Western Alaska.
The HomePlate Apartments will provide housing for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Chronic homelessness is described by NEST Director Shoni Evans as someone experiencing homelessness for three years or more. Nome Community Center (NCC) estimates there are 30 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Nome.
The project will be made up of 15 studio apartments for single occupancy, serving nearly half of the chronic homeless population.
While the inception began in 2018, construction on the project began in May. The project initially estimated construction to be completed by December, and had residents expecting to move in by January.
Janice Mixsooke is the Housing and Homeless Prevention Coordinator at NCC. She said construction on the apartments is ahead of schedule. She added, residents may be able to move in by November but is dependent on various building certifications.
The Nome Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) is a “wet shelter” in Nome provided through NCC. This is the sixth winter the shelter is offering services. The shelter serves nearly 250 individuals over the season, and houses an average of 40-45 individuals each night. Mixsooke expects the number of those utilizing NEST to go down with the installation of the HomePlate Apartments.
“Hopefully, it won’t be 40 or 50 people.”
Evans previously told KNOM there were nine housing sites throughout the city. All nine housing sites will continue services, in addition to the 15 apartments, according to Evans.
The apartment’s design includes onsite medical, mental health clinics, and a space for individual counseling provided through Behavioral Health Services (BHS). Mixsooke says participating in counseling is not a requirement to stay at the apartments, but is available to those who’d like to participate.
“We highly encourage them to get an intake assessment, and talk with BHS. They (BNS staff) are going to be visiting the actual building and providing services.”
Construction for the HomePlate Apartments is scheduled to be complete by December, but will likely move in residents by November. To contact the Nome Community Center, call (907) 443-5259. Updates regarding the apartments are regularly posted on their Facebook page.
Photo at top: HomePlate Apartments under construction on Sep. 13, by Teresa Trigg