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Hope Harbor plans land acquisition, housing expansion effort in Grand Island

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Hope Harbor Director Liz Mayfield, right, details plans at Thursday's CDGB stakeholders meeting to acquire property adjacent to its West First Street location to expand its housing options. The Grand Island shelter is requesting $195,000 to help with the effort. 

Grand Island’s Hope Harbor shelter is planning to acquire property adjacent to its West First Street and Division Street locations.

At Thursday’s meeting of Community Development Block Grant stakeholders, Hope Harbor Executive Director Liz Mayfield detailed plans to expand its housing options.

Hope Harbor is requesting $195,000 in CDBG funds to help with the effort.

“We’re in the thick of negotiations for this property,” Mayfield said. “We’re moving forward just kind of assuming that will all work out.”

A total of $365,907 in CDBG funds is available this year through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Of that, $310,907 available for allocation and $55,000 reserved for the city.

Also requesting funds are: Railside, for small business rental assistance ($25,000); Central Nebraska Community Action Partnership, for emergency payments ($20,000); and KDL Child Care for facility upgrades ($128,217).

Hope Harbor assists individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness.

There is a need for an expansion of its services, as determined by a five-year plan completed in 2021, Mayfield said.

“There is absolutely a need for those prevention services,” she said. “In other words, services to prevent homelessness from occurring.”

Keeping people housed is “the best case scenario” for prevention of homelessness.

This was a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the shelter was forced to limit the number of people it took on, Mayfield said.

To address such housing issues, Hope Harbor is expanding its program to include “supportive housing” through land acquisition.

“We were approached by the owner of the properties to buy the land,” she said. “We’ve been in negotiations with him for some time. However, with the market being how it is, he’s now getting competitive bids, people who are also wanting to purchase the land, so time is of the essence for us to move forward.”

The structures on the lot would be demolished and the land would be held for future use.

This would not reduce Grand Island’s housing inventory, Mayfield said.

“Our board of directors toured the properties and we don’t believe, the amount of upgrades or money we put into it, would not be correct for what we would get in return out of it,” she said. “It’s a strategic purchase that would temporarily reduce the housing inventory with the concept of adding inventory in the future.”

Over the next five to seven years, Hope Harbor plans to develop the lots to create a least 10 housing units through a mix of supportive housing and traditional apartments.

“Supportive housing” includes wraparound services, such as case management and mental health services, said Mayfield.

“We have individuals in our community who are chronically homeless and in our shelter continually,” she said. “Those individuals will really never enter into the private market.”

Hope Harbor would also draw from its own funding, set aside for expansion purchase, and plans to pursue further federal funding and launch a capital campaign.

City Administrator Jerry Janulewicz expressed concerns at Thursday’s meeting that Hope Harbor offers services only to women and families, which can include men, and not individual men.

“We don’t duplicate services with Salvation Army or Crossroads,” Mayfield said. “They don’t serve any families. They only serve single males. We serve essentially everyone else. We have men living in our shelter all the time, but they’re part of a two-parent family, a single dad with kids, or a married couple.”

She added, “Single women can come, but not single men.”

No decisions have been made yet for allocation of the 2022 CDBG funds.

CDBG stakeholders will meet Thursday, June 2, at Grand Island City Hall, to discuss this year’s grant applicants.

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