Photo: Gov. Ricketts (third from right) and project leaders break ground at the new Villa Rows housing development in North Omaha.
The Villa Rows will consist of 23 affordable rental units for low- and very low-income families in North and South Omaha.
Yesterday, Governor Pete Ricketts visited Omaha to attend a groundbreaking celebration for The Villa Rows, a 23-unit rental development created to serve low- and very low income households in North and South Omaha. The project was spearheaded in partnership between local nonprofits Holy Name Housing Corporation and Heartland Family Services.
“Affordable homes improve the lives of Nebraska families, promote economic opportunity and create room to grow our workforce,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Thank you to our state’s nonprofit and community development organizations for playing an important role in the success of our vision to grow Nebraska.”
Villa Rows will consist of 16 row homes and duplexes located at 15th and Spring streets in south Omaha, plus seven units at north Omaha’s 34th and Miami. The project was funded in part by a $750,000 award from the National Housing Trust Fund, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), plus the State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, administered by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority; City of Omaha administered HOME Investment Partnerships Funding; Tax Increment Financing; and traditional investment and loan financing.
The Villa Rows will be reserved for tenants at or below 30 to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI).
Holy Name Housing Corporation Executive Director Matthew Cavanaugh commented on the need for affordable rental options to support local low-income families. To pursue that mission, his agency acquires, builds and rehabilitates housing units — often with the help of local, state and federal subsidies — in order to offer them to families in need of affordable, rent-controlled rates.
“There are hundreds of families on our waitlist that are ready to take advantage of these homes as soon as they become available. We really can’t build this kind of housing fast enough,” he said. “That’s why we are so fortunate for the state and federal programs that enable us to target low-income and at-need families in our area.”
Heartland Family Services shares a similar mission. Its Rapid Rehousing Program connects people experiencing homelessness with safe places to live, providing temporary financial support to get them back on their feet. A portion of Villa Rows’ units — namely, those that were financed by the DED-administered HTF award — will be set aside for Rapid Rehousing participants. The remaining units will be reserved for families at or below 60% AMI.
Mindy Paces is Vice President of Financial Stability for Heartland:
“When you think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, safety is at the core. If someone has a home and a core sense of safety, then a lot of the other challenges that may be in a person’s life can start to be addressed,” she said. “An internal resiliency can start to build, and life can fall into place. So it is hugely impactful, and that’s why this is an exciting partnership and much-needed opportunity for our community.”
DED Director Anthony L. Goins commented on the importance and impact of local, state and federal resources and programs for affordable housing development.
“It is absolutely critical that we continue to focus on housing in order to grow our communities and our state,” said Goins. “We have the privilege in that regard to work side-by-side with incredible organizations like Holy Name and Heartland to pursue mutual goals for the people of Nebraska.”
Both Paces and Cavanaugh remarked on the partnerships and collaboration that allowed today’s project to come to fruition in the midst of the pandemic.
“Moving things forward when there was so much on people’s plates with COVID was a challenge, but getting to today feels like the next phase and a huge step forward,” Cavanaugh said. “I think this is a great example of the synergy between nonprofits working to serve people in need.”
“We’re excited for more opportunities that can emerge out of this partnership,” Paces said. “Safe and affordable housing is even more important now given the global situation and the impact it’s had on individual and family well-being. There’s a lot we can achieve when we combine our resources and areas of expertise to tackle the challenge.”
The Villa Rows are slated for completion in summer 2022. Visit opportunity.nebraska.gov for more information on the National Housing Trust Fund, Nebraska Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and other State and federal resources for affordable housing development.