The Connection Homeless Shelter is working toward building a set of 40 new apartments that will be affordable and provide a supportive environment for people in need.

Connection Executive Director Ashley Lewis announced the project Thursday night as part of an observance of National Homeless Awareness Week. Mayor Brandon Kelliher spoke, and a set of cardboard houses were displayed, which will be auctioned to raise funds.

Some of the “out of the box” cardboard houses:

Lewis said the Connection has applied for funds through the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority. She is confident that the money will be awarded, but not sure when.

Lewis said one- and two- and three-bedrooms with below fair market rental rates will be built on what is now the east end of Francis St. She said the shelter plans to offer services to improve the quality of life of tenants, helping them improve their self-sufficiency and sustainability.

She said the Connection and its partners plan to provide mentorship and guidance as well as case management services – connecting residents to health care and other resources. A community garden is planned. So is a playground, laundry facilities and a community building.

Ashley Lewis

“There is so much potential for truly beneficial services in a project like this that I cannot wait to get started on building and growing the amazing partnerships that will make those services possible,” Lewis said.   

She expects the financing to be lined up next spring and groundbreaking by fall. She said another 30 or so units could be added in the future.

“We look forward to providing an additional service in our community that will certainly benefit us all,” she said.

She said North Platte lacks affordable housing for people with limited incomes. For instance, Autumn Park has a waiting list.

“We are working with an incredible developer and an architect who have completed many of these projects and who work hard to ensure that their affordable properties invoke a sense of pride, not only in their tenants but the communities in which they are placed,” she said.

She said the development will serve low- and moderate-income households along with those that are needing other accommodations.

In the cardboard house competition, Knobel Refrigeration won the award for the best entry. The houses will be auctioned Nov. 28-29 via the North Platte No Limits facebook to raise funds, Lewis said.

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