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Archive for the ‘Housing and Revitalization’ Category

Rental Housing momentum on state and local levels

January 9th, 2019

Op-Ed in Omaha World Herald

OTOC leader Dennis Walsh and Restoring Dignity Executive Director Hannah Wyble published an op-ed in the paper outlining what an effective housing policy should have to prevent the furthering of substandard rental housing.

Read the article here: Midlands Voices: Omaha needs to provide effective, affordable reform of rental oversight

And in case you missed it, here’s the editorial cartoon from Sunday, Feb. 9:

Call your council member today!

The City of Omaha is currently drafting a City ordinance to head off action by the Unicameral on Sen Wayne’s LB 85 which requires the City to register and periodically inspect all rental property in Omaha.

The Mayor and Council will make decisions over the next two weeks that will affect the health and safety of families and vitality of our neighborhoods for years to come.

Tell Mayor Stothert and your City Council member you want a strong ordinance requiring both Registration and Proactive Inspection. See below what OTOC believes  the city needs to adopt.

Talking points- What OTOC believes must be in place for real rental property reform:

  • Require registration of all rental properties.  The city tracks who owns cats and dogs but does not track who owns rental property.  Omaha should emulate Council Bluffs, which uses stiff fines for non-registration to attain an estimated participation rate of 85 percent.  Registration data must be online, easily accessible and include records of code violations and all names of LLC owners.

Read More . . .

OTOC meets with 9 area senators in anticipation of 2019 Unicameral session

December 19th, 2018

OTOC leaders are meeting with Omaha-area Unicameral senators. In October, we hosted a Candidate Accountability Session for candidates from districts 6, 8, 12, and 20. (Click here to learn more). Those candidates committed to meeting with OTOC leaders to follow up on their commitment to action.

Leaders are now following up with the victors from those districts, plus other area senators about priorities in the upcoming session.

Senators meeting with OTOC:

Read More . . .

OTOC Interviews with WOWT and KFAB

December 1st, 2018

OTOC Interview with WOWT 

OTOC leader Dennis Walsh sat down with Tara Campbell of WOWT on November 26th to talk about the need for a rental property registration and inspection ordinance to help solve the city’s ongoing issue with substandard rental properties. Dennis responded to concerns that OTOC has heard from council members that an inspection program would be too expensive and articulated the ways OTOC believes the city can move forward on the issue. Listen to the interview here. 

OTOC Leader’s Interview with KFAB 

On November 28th, OTOC Leader Dennis Walsh sat down with KFAB host Chris Baker to defend OTOC’s call for a landlord registration and inspection program. Listen to Dennis’ masterful and humorous responses during this radio interview. Look for this November 28th interview using this link

Urban Abbey Housing Issue Cafe 

On Tuesday, November 27th, the OTOC Housing Team spoke to over 75 guests at Urban Abbey about the variety of solutions being proposed by the city to combat the issue of substandard rental property. We want to thank all who came out and invite you to attend our next Housing Team meeting which will be Tuesday, 1/4 at 6:30pm at Augustana Lutheran Church. 

Housing Research 

The OTOC Housing Team has compiled resources that allow people to understand the issue if substandard rental property in Omaha as well as solutions to this issue. Attached is the Housing Team’s analysis of the number of inspectors necessary to implement a rental property inspection ordinance. Also attached is a graphic which explains the possible solutions to substandard rental property in Omaha that OTOC leaders have heard about in their meetings with members of the Omaha City Council.  

Issue cafes educate about refugees, mental health, and housing

November 16th, 2018

Improving Rental Housing in Omaha

Seventy-five diverse community leaders met on Nov. 27 to learn about and discuss the state of affordable, quality housing. OTOC leaders presented some solutions like a rental property and landlord registration, a housing ombudsman, an inspection pilot project, and , the most effective, a rental property inspection ordinance. The lively group had a good conversation about what these policies would look like and about the larger scope of affordable housing in Omaha. See this article to learn more about OTOCs recent work on housing and an inspection ordinance.

Read More . . .

225 OTOC leaders meet with Unicameral Candidates from 4 Districts

October 23rd, 2018

Over 225 OTOC and community leaders from 25 congregations and community organizations met with 7 candidates for the Nebraska Unicameral on Monday, October 22.  OTOC leaders told compelling stories about five issues which they are working on through OTOC Action Teams. They asked candidates for specific commitments on:

  • Adopting a state law requiring rental property registration & inspection if the City of Omaha is unable to adopt adequate protections;
  • Fully funding the  state portion of expanded Medicaid when  Initiative 427 passes;
  • Improving mental health care in our state prisons and in the community;
  • Adopt state strategies to battle climate change;
  • Continue reforming Payday lending. 

Scorecard of candidate responses

Click for a copy of the questions OTOC leaders asked: Final Questions for October 22 Session with Unicameral candidates

Twenty different OTOC and community leaders told stories, asked questions or served as chairs OTOC Agenda with speakers for Oct 22 2018

Read More . . .

Take Action for Renters: Don’t let Yale Park Happen Again

September 26th, 2018

Please join OTOC leaders in contacting your council member and the Mayor’s office and ask for a prompt solution that would prevent homes from becoming unsafe and uninhabitable. Use the paragraph below or your own words to send your support for a solution to the code enforcement system.

We believe the situation at Yale Park was a tragedy that should not be repeated, and a rental property registration and inspection would prevent rental properties from reaching such substandard conditions. We are asking City Council change our “complaint driven” system to one that proactively prevents homes from falling into disrepair.

See OTOC’s Research on Proactive Rental Property Registration and Inspection ordinances:

OTOC Position Paper on Proactive Rental Inspection Systems

Guide to Rental Inspection Programs (1)   

OTOC 1 Page Overview of Rentral Property Registration Ordinance.docx

Dennis Walsh Housing Article 8-9-18

Last two speakers of OTOC 2018 Budget Testimony

Tell City Council Members OTOC wants:

Read More . . .

OTOC leaders Ask City Council to Invest in Improving Housing in Older Neighborhoods

August 3rd, 2018

 

On Tuesday, July 31st, twenty OTOC Leaders attended the City Council Budget Hearing. Six leaders testified before the Council, emphasizing 6 priorities surrounding the issue of housing and revitalization of Omaha neighborhoods. Below is a list of these priorities.  

OTOC Slides and Testimony from Budget Hearing

1) Puts $1.1 million in the budget for demolition of dangerous structures, putting the six year total at $6.2 Million invested in demolition of 

2) Finalize an Inter Local Agreement with the Omaha Land Bank by the end of August so that it can give the City $500,000 to provide for demolition of 30 additional homes in 2018-19.

3)  Foreclose on all Demolition Liens as quickly as the law allows so that the abandoned properties end up in the hands of the Land Bank, who has a proven record of better maintaining properties.

4) Clarify when the City Garbage Collector can refuse to pick up trash for weeks as they did at 4201 Maple.

5) Ensure that all 9 of the Housing Code Inspectors in the proposed budget get hired. The Planning Department has a history of putting more code inspector positions in the budget than it actually hires.

6) End the Demolitions Pipeline and work with OTOC to learn about adopting a Proactive Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance which would require that all rental property be registered and periodically inspected to assure that it meets basic health and safe codes. Council Bluffs, LaVista and Carter Lake have already taken this step.

 From WOWT Broadcast

“Churches who work with Omaha Together One Community stood up to present to the council the need for getting rid of the demolition pipeline. What OTOC wants is for the city to be able to absorb demolished property through an interlocal agreement with the Omaha Municipal Land Bank to reuse the land.

OTOC also wants the city to better use what money they have in the budget to hire more code inspectors.

“What we’re interested in is that they actually hire fully the inspectors that exist in the budget. The money is there if they would simply hire people rather than leaving the money on the table and saying, ‘We have a surplus in our department,’” Dennis Walsh said, who spoke on behalf of OTOC.”

 Since the hearing on Tuesday, the testimonies of OTOC Leaders have been cited in articles from the Omaha World Herald, KETV and WOWT

From here, OTOC Leaders hope that these testimonies will result in a more proactive approach  from the City Council in addressing the issue of deteriorating and aging property in Omaha.

On Tuesday, leaders took the first positive step in that direction. 

June Issue Cafes at Urban Abbey

May 30th, 2018

A few months a year, the Urban Abbey, a coffe shop/bookstore/Methodist Congregation partners with OTOC as community partners. As community partners in June, OTOC receives 10% of the coffee bar sales in the month as well as hosts learning opportunities at the Abbey. This June was OTOC’s second Urban Abbey month of the year, and OTOC action teams hosted four great Issue Cafes to learn more about some issues they are working on.

How we can change the Narrative for Substandard Rental Housing on June 5

 

Read More . . .

Housing Action Team explores substandard rental housing in Omaha at Urban Abbey

April 10th, 2018

Nearly 40 people attended a discussion at Urban Abbey, focused on the problems of substandard rental units and what can be done about them. OTOC’s Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Team sponsored the event and attendees included landlords, renters and interested citizens.

The evening started out with Dennis Walsh, a Housing team member, who gave a presentation, with maps and fact sheets , about the city’s housing code violations since 2015. The data showed trends toward a growth in both the number of rental units in Omaha and the rising costs of those units. It also pointed out how violations and demolitions tend to be concentrated in certain zip codes. To access these maps, follow these links: Click here for graphs, Active Housing Violations by Year, Jan 2018 Active Housing ViolationsActive Violations Bar All Zip codes

His talk was followed by guest speaker Gary Fischer–Family Housing Advisory Services Legal Counsel.  He gave an in-depth report about both substandard rental housing and evictions.  His presentation included handouts of maps showing eviction notices throughout the city. He said two traits correlated to eviction notices:  poverty and locations which are highly populated by African Americans. 

Read More . . .

OTOC leaders continue their work to reduce housing blight

August 10th, 2017

Paul RomeroFive leaders of the OTOC Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Team testified Tuesday night in favor of $1.1 Million for demolition of condemned structures in the 2018 City Budget. They also issued two challenges to the Mayor and Council.

In 2011, the City was spending only $240,000/year on demolition and had a backlog of 800 condemned properties. Since 2013, OTOC has successfully advocated that the City spend $1 Million each year for demolition until the backlog is eliminated. The current backlog of  175 structures could be  eliminated by 2020 since the Land Bank will contribute an additional $500,000 this year for a total of $1.6 Million in 2018 for demolition. OTOC advocated for creation of the Land Bank in 2014-15 and stays involved in giving them regular feedback about priorities.

OTOC leaders issue New Challenges

Even when our forward-thinking city initiatives are in place, the process as it is now is moving too slowly,” said Charles Gould of OTOC.  OWH, August 9, 2017

Charlie GouldOTOC leaders also challenged the City to:(1) more quickly register properties qualifying for the Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry; and (2) use the registry fees to secure abandoned buildings so they don’t deteriorate as quickly. OTOC advocated for creation of the Registry in 2015 and Charlie Gould noted that waiting 4 years for properties to go to foreclosure for unpaid taxes is too to long. Instead, he advocated that the City foreclose for unpaid Registry fees within two years or sooner so the property can be rehabilitated instead of demolished.

Creighton Center for Service & Justice student intern Paul Romero presented data demonstrating the “Demolition Pipeline” of neglected homes in Omaha. Karen McElroy and Dave McLeod both reminded the City Council members  that neglected rental properties are aKaren McElroy large part of the problem in the eastern part of Omaha. On May 1, in front of 350 OTOC delegates, 6 of the current City Council members agreed to work with OTOC leaders over the next year to improve the regulation of substandard rental housing. Institute for Public Leadership (IPL)is helping OTOC leaders learn  more about  strategies that have worked in Council Bluffs, LaVista and other cities.

 

 

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