FARGO - A plan to provide affordable housing for single mothers is in full swing after the Jeremiah Program held a groundbreaking celebration here on Tuesday, June 13.

The Jeremiah Program, a nonprofit group that aims to help single mothers pursuing college degrees, started construction at its Fargo campus this week. The building will be located at 801 Page Drive on land being leased by Catholic Health Initiatives for $1 per year.

Beginning in January 2018, the building will house 20 women with children under 5 years old and include an early childhood education center, as well as community spaces for the women to build life-skills, confidence, and meet with coaches for support.

Diane Solinger, executive director of the Jeremiah Program in Fargo, said planning for the project began six years ago. Solinger said the program received $2.2 million from the North Dakota Housing Financing Agency in 2015 and close to $1.1 million from the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016. Foundations, private donations and other organizations supplied another $3 million.

Coiya Tompkins, development director for the Jeremiah Program, said mothers must be over 18 years old and enrolled in college to qualify for the program. They must also take two 12-week classes through the Jeremiah Program: an empowerment course and a life-skills course. Tompkins said the empowerment course strives to instill confidence in the women and connect them with resources, while the life-skills course teaches them everything from balancing a checkbook to parenting tips.

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Tuesday's groundbreaking was held indoors because of inclement weather. In an opening address, Solinger said the need for the Jeremiah Program is high, with over 2,300 single mothers living in poverty in Fargo - a number that's increased 16 percent in the last six years.

The Jeremiah Program has campuses in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Boston and Austin, Texas, as well as one being developed in Rochester, Minn.