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Siena Francis House developing tiny homes neighborhood

Posted at 10:20 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 23:23:45-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With roughly 80,000 units needed, the housing shortage in Omaha is a big issue. Siena Francis House is hoping to take the first steps toward filling that gap with their new tiny house project called The Cottages.

As an answer to the cry for more affordable housing, Siena Francis House is building 50 tiny homes near 16th and Charles. It's a system that has already seen success in places like Kansas City.

“We’re seeing a lot of micro housing, whether it's tiny homes or smaller apartments fill the housing needs in many cities across the nation," said Linda Twomey, CEO of Siena Francis House.

Using income-based rent, the units will be available for individuals who are facing homelessness, and gives a chance for them to build a foundation.

The homes will not be open to families or couples. There will be slightly larger homes that are more accessible for those with disabilities.

Those staying on the property will have a case manager who will help them take steps toward stability. There will be a community building on the campus where the leasing office, case manage office and other amenities like storage and laundry will be located.

“During the time that they’re living there, they’re working on things like getting income, finding a job if they want to go back to work, taking care of their healthcare needs," Twomey said.

There will not be a time limit on residents, but based on stays at Siena Francis House's other properties, the expected stay is about 3 1/2 years.

Twomey says these tiny 300 to 375 sq ft homes are more affordable than other affordable housing. Each unit costs about $45,000 to build compared to $140,000 per unit for most affordable housing.

This project, which includes prepping the property and building the community center, will cost roughly $6 million.

Siena Francis House is working with the Nebraska Investment Authority to receive tax credit financing to help cover the cost.

On Tuesday the Omaha City Council unanimously approved several resolutions taking care of things like zoning permits so the project could begin.

Councilman Ben Gray, who represents the district the project will be in, said he's been looking at tiny houses as a solution to the housing shortage for a while and is happy to see the project underway.

“I like where its headed, but I think it's an opportunity to do some much greater things in the community to help those who have been struggling for a long time as well as those who are going to be in difficulty after COVID," Gray said.

Sienna Francis House is hoping to start prepping the area later this summer.

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