In 1975, the Siena/Francis House was founded as a shelter for women in Omaha. Over the last 43 years, it has expanded in services and facilities, evolving into the largest provider of services to men and woman experiencing homelessness in the region. Siena/Francis House now offers emergency overnight shelter, transitional housing, addiction recovery services, re-housing and reintegration programs, and permanent housing.
Stormy Dean has served as their COO and CFO for nearly 8 years. With a varied background that includes everything from restaurant management to college professor to corporate leadership, Dean has a passion for serving Omaha’s homeless.
“I’m proud that we run a low barrier shelter. We don’t turn people away who have mental illness or are in the midst of addiction. We just want to keep people safe, warm, and fed,” says Stormy. “Our goal for those entering homelessness is to help them resolve their situation within 2 weeks, working on a housing plan and getting the resources they need to stabilize or manage illness and addiction.”
Despite the incredible expansion over the last 43 years, the shelter still runs well over capacity.
Stormy explains, “We’re in the process of building a new shelter with incredible support from the community. In the meantime, we’ve got over 75 men and women sleeping on mats on the floor because our beds are all full. Our female population is up well over 200%.”
Although most of the people that stay are peaceful, when you have that many people in one space there can be problems. After a particularly violent situation in the summer of 2017 which involved 3 people getting stabbed, Stormy Dean reached out to Protective Security Advisors.
“Tyler Davis and his team were here the next day and it’s been a great relationship ever since. We find that just the presence of the uniformed officers on the PSA team is a calming influence.”
Beyond providing security services at the shelter, PSA has learned a lot about how to support the homeless population.
Stormy remembers, “Shortly after PSA starting working with us, they got a contract providing security for abandoned buildings in the city. When they discovered several people who had found shelter in these buildings, their CEO arranged for city council members and media to come along and see the encampments so they could shed light on how expansive the homelessness problem was in the city. They have a compassion for the homeless that I’ve never seen from another security firm.”
After working with PSA for over a year and a half, they’ve seen the benefits of a long-term security contract.
“Everyone is just used to the security team being around. Their presence alone stops things from happening. They’ve proven themselves to be effective and professional. If an argument starts to break out, all the officer has to do is walk by and the situation resolves itself,” says Stormy. “Just the other day, someone tried to sneak into the campus who had been banned for bad behavior. Because the security team knows the ins and outs of our daily activity, the officer on duty recognized the person and stopped them from entering with a weapon. That kind of awareness is priceless.
Stormy says, “PSA isn’t just a vendor, they are a partner for us and the community. I consider Tyler a friend. When I have an idea of how we could be doing something better, all I have to do is mention it and they figure it out. They are one of the most customer-centric organizations I’ve ever worked with, always going above and beyond.”