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Down for the Cause, Not Down for the Count

By Chris Bowling for the Omaha Star More than 150 years ago, wagon trains carrying westward travelers crested the last hills along the banks of the Missouri River. Across those waters they viewed an expansive new land they hoped would hold opportunity and freedom. And through hardships of cold and arid weather, the hearty stock of pioneers turned prairieland into…

No Single “Answer” To Gentrification

By Lynn Sanchez GENTRIFICATION: “The process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.”  –Merriam Webster Dictionary Omaha is wrestling with the same city planning and economic issues that confound and…

OMAHA MUNICIPAL LAND BANK NO SILVER BULLET

by Lynn Sanchez After the national housing bubble burst, Omaha was in the same leaky boat as a lot of other cities. Saddled with bad properties no one wanted, the city ended up holding on to them indefinitely. Located in the oldest, poorest parts of town, they were a detriment to neighborhoods and a drain on city resources; mowing, and…

Omaha Municipal Land Bank Lacks Full Representation

By Mark McGaugh This article contains the opinions of the author.   With the reserves of affordable housing diminishing and the presence of private contractors increasing, residents aren’t left with many options to stay in their communities. However, The Omaha Municipal Land Bank (OMLB) has recently emerged as one tool to help stave off the negatives of gentrification. Created in…



Boring Public Meetings: Why You Should Pay Attention

By Lynn Sanchez “Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.” –Alexis de Tocqueville NEWS FLASH: Local government meetings are as dull as dry toast. But if you want to be “in the room where it happens” sometimes a meeting is that place. So you must develop…

Village Redevelopment Plans for Next Generation

By Lynn Sanchez In 2006, the 60-block area near historic Prospect Hill cemetery was one of the deadliest locations in Omaha. Residents lived in fear of being shot. Many would not allow their children to play outdoors. North Omaha community leaders from the Empowerment Network, Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) and others were concerned and decided to tackle the issue…

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood Association?

By Lynn Sanchez From Aksarben Heights to Woodlyn Park, most Omaha neighborhoods have a grassroots group of volunteers working with one purpose: to watch out for their neighborhood. Year by year, block by block, they improve, advocate, maintain, protect and connect. “Without neighborhoods, we don’t have a community,” said Precious McKesson, president of North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance (NONA) board. “They’re…

Look Into Homestead Exemptions

By Lynn Sanchez Nebraska homeowners who are most likely to be cost-burdened by property taxes can qualify for up to 100% relief through the “Homestead Exemption” program. Douglas County is actively trying to “grow” the program. Applications are taken between February 1st and June 30st, 2020 for the following year’s (2021) property taxes. “It’s an awesome, awesome program,” said Douglas…

Wayne Hopes “Extremely Blighted” Designation Creates Investment, Ownership

By Lynn Sanchez Senator Justin Wayne is playing the long game. The District 13 representative is reshaping Community Development law to help Omahans struggling to live in the city’s oldest, most dangerous areas to achieve home ownership and get a bigger slice of the economic pie. But it begins with two words some might interpret as negative: “Extremely Blighted.” In…

FHAS 2020 PRE-PURCHASE CLASS SCHEDULE

If you are interested in being a homeowner some day, Family Housing Advisory Services offers regular classes to help with everything you need to know. 

Five Ways to Win at Homeownership

by Lynn Sanchez In mid-December, Metropolitan Community College hosted a public screening of the documentary “Priced Out; 15 Years of Gentrification in Oregon“ to an audience of about 30 viewers. The film was followed by a lively panel discussion with the audience and Amanda Brewer, CEO of Habitat for Humanity; Alexis Bromley Director of ONE Omaha; Teresa Coleman Hunter; CEO…

Tax Certificate Auctions: How They Work

By Lynn Sanchez The Tax Man: Treasurer John Ewing Omahans receive their annual property tax bills in mid-December from the Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing. The Treasurer’s office collects property taxes, vehicle registration fees and permit and licensing fees from county entities such as the Health Department. Because they share space with the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, people often…

Property Taxes 101

Lynn Sanchez No one enjoys paying taxes. But can we all agree it would be near-impossible to sustain city and county services without them? Road construction, sewer maintenance and street lights are all financed in part by your property taxes, which are projected to provide about 16% of the city’s 2020 revenue, or $181,370,252. How Are Property Taxes Figured? It…

North Omaha Residents Offer Affordable Housing Ideas/Solutions

By Dawaune Lamont Hayes Housing affordability affects all people, no matter their income. Change will require a holistic effort founded in community and reflected in government and market policy. If we listen to each other, we might just come up with many solutions. Here are some of the local residents’ ideas from the PRI community meeting:  Evaluate Urban Indian Health…

“Affordable” To Whom? To US!

By Dawaune Lamont Hayes Affordable housing is more than just building new, partially-subsidized single family homes. There must be a variety of housing types across different income levels to ensure people can find adequate shelter to meet their needs.  Omaha is seeing a massive boom in luxury rental development in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Blackstone and Little Bohemia, but as the…

“Affordable” — To Whom?

By Dawaune Lamont Hayes There are a growing number of conversations taking place in cities like Omaha, who are seeing new luxury developments in their urban centers. As rents and buildings rise, people have become especially concerned about affordable housing. The term “affordable” is used regularly by developers, city officials, housing advocates and residents, but what exactly is meant by…

Wealth Gap and Home Ownership

The wealth gap between Whites and Blacks often hinges on home ownership. A 2017 study prepared by Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies posits, “Although…disparities are driven by several factors, disparities in homeownership rates account for much of the racial wealth divide. (emphasis added)” Another interesting fact: “In 2015, the federal government spent $51 billion on public housing…