OTOC leaders held a press conference on November 17 at a long abandoned house on Belvedere Blvd to express their support for the City of Omaha Vacant Property Registration Ordinance and to call for continued work by OTOC, the Mayor and City Council and Registrar of Deeds to identify whether Omaha has a “Zombie Mortgage” problem in Omaha. OTOC chose to meet at this house because Deutsche Bank holds a “Zombie Mortgage”, meaning the bank has chosen not to foreclose on it for over 5 years and refused the owner’s effort to give the deed back to the bank in 2012. All the while this once fine home has deteriorated to the point it may have to be demolished.
Later in the day, the City Council passed the Vacant Property Registration Ordinance unanimously with ten OTOC leaders there to witness the discussion. OTOC first called for such an ordinance in an Issue paper presented to the Council and Mayor in August, 2013. OTOC leaders have been renewing their call each year at the annual budget hearing, reminding City Council that in addition to allocating sufficient funding for demolition of condemned buildings, Omaha needs to shut down the “deterioration pipeline” that includes over 4,000 houses with ongoing, serious code violations. OTOC Housing Action Team Co-Chair Gloria Austerberry said, “we should all celebrate this new ordinance because it is another important tool to help the City deal with deteriorating buildings abandoned by irresponsible owners.”