Siena Francis House
Emergency Shelter for Men & Women Experiencing Homelessness
Siena Francis House is the largest provider of emergency shelter to adults experiencing homelessness in the State of Nebraska. Siena Francis Houses emergency shelter is located at 1117 North 17th Street in Omaha. The goal of emergency shelter is to provide for the most urgent, immediate needs of those facing a housing crisis to help them get housed in the community as quickly as possible. Siena Francis Houses shelter facility and program are designed to provide the highest quality, low-barrier services to individuals experiencing homelessness, including shelter, meals, clothing, and others, while concurrently helping them navigate their path to permanent, stable housing.
Our new shelter facility opened in December 2019 and provides 350 beds for men and 100 beds for women in separate dormitories. All guests in this facility must be 19 years of age or older. The shelter is designed with each guests dignity in mind. The dormitories are subdivided into sleeping areas of 28 beds, reducing the scale from the too-often-seen dorm that sleeps hundreds. The restroom facilities are sized well beyond code, providing an appropriate time for guests use.
The new facilitys dining and adjacent community/common area spaces are sized to prevent cramped conditions. Sufficient daylight is brought in with ample windows, although they are high enough to provide privacy for guests. In addition to sleeping and dining areas, the new facility offers shelter and case management offices, a full-sized commercial kitchen, a clothing distribution room, a laundry area, a sanitation room, and an easily accessible donation/loading dock.
Intake/Case management offices are adjacent to the community/common areas. Convenient access to these offices allows our shelter staff to welcome and conduct a thorough assessment of individuals new to the emergency shelter and provides case managers with appropriate spaces to work with guests as they develop their plans for being housed in the community.
When a guest arrives at our emergency shelter facility, shelter staff greet and welcome her/him and determine whether the person is a first-time or returning guest. For first-time guests, shelter staff administers the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) Coordinated Entry Assessment (CEA). This assessment helps the community prioritize and match the most vulnerable homeless individuals with appropriate available housing. Utilizing an individualized, trauma-informed, person-centered approach, MACCHs CEA process gathers information necessary to determine the severity of need and eligibility for housing and related services and to provide meaningful recommendations to persons being assessed. Information gathered through the assessment process: 1) Determines the level of the housing crisis (category of homelessness) and any self-reported safety concerns; 2) Identifies any opportunities to divert the individual from becoming homeless; 3) Informs the process of prioritization by identifying chronic homelessness status, housing history, and length of homelessness; and 4) Provides for equitable access to emergency response resources for those who cannot be diverted into a higher level of housing.
If the woman or man experiencing homelessness is not diverted and enters our facility, requesting emergency shelter, shelter staff completes an intake form with the guest for Siena Francis Houses records. This would include the persons name, employment status, and other demographic information, including a listing of the variables related to his or her homelessness. Guests who may have stayed previously are recorded as re-requesting shelter. All guests are then assigned a specific bunk in the shelter for that evening. Each night, the records of stay for all persons assigned a bunk are entered into the communitys Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which is the Continuum of Cares (CoC) database, used to track the people who seek emergency shelter at Siena Francis House and/or homeless services at other metro area agencies.
Based on the data collected on the intake forms, Siena Francis House staff work to identify any urgent needs that may require additional help to stabilize a guests condition, including clothing and personal care/hygiene items, as well as medical/mental health attention, to the greatest extent as is possible.
All first-time guests are provided with orientation-to-shelter materials. They are also provided with Guest Rights and Responsibilities information.
Upon admission to the emergency shelter, guests belongings are processed through the shelters heating/sanitation room. Each guest is also provided with a personal storage unit, which is assigned to each specific bunk. Guests may purchase a padlock from Siena Francis House for $5 or earn one by completing a chore, or they may waive the padlock option altogether.
There is a 9 p.m. curfew for emergency shelter each evening. Guests must be inside the emergency shelter facility by that time, although first-time guests who arrive after 9 p.m. are allowed to check-in. Lights-Out in the dorms is at 10:30 p.m. each evening. Lights On in the dorms is at 7 a.m. each morning, with guests allowed to shower, etc.
The dorms are closed to guests at 9 a.m. every morning and re-open to guests at 4 p.m. Regardless of when guests arrive at Siena Francis House, they are not required to leave the facility during the daytime hours; they may stay in the common area spaces of their gender-separate, secured shelter area. Self-service laundry facilities are available for guests during daytime hours in the adjacent Baright Building.
In addition to sleeping and dining areas, the new facility offers case management/counseling offices, a kitchen, a clothing distribution room, and an easily accessible loading dock.