3647 Lafayette Avenue, Ste 110; Omaha, NE 68131 otocfornebraska@gmail.com 402-344-4401

Democracy is not a
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Thank You for a Wonderful Training Series!

October 23rd, 2019

Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up:

Why People of Faith Matter


We would like to take a moment to thank everyone who put on and attended our Rebuilding Democracyseries. With the support and handwork of many OTOC leaders and IPL educators, participants were able to learn about their important role as a citizen in relation to faith. Over the course of three months, we were able to reflect upon relationships within the community and how to positively effect change.


July 8, 2019

Reflecting on Democracy: Broad Based Community Organizing

Learned about broad-based organizations and how congregations from different denominations and other caring institutions work together for the common good. As well as, reflected on OTOC & IAF (membership, history, affiliations) acting toward a community that works for all.


August 12, 2019

Reflecting on Democracy: Importance of Relationships

Discussed the importance of public and private relationships and how this relates to congregation and the
broader society.


October 17-19, 2019

Rebuilding Democracy: Why People of Faith Matter

Learned effective organizing practices in order to create change in our local community, and met others who are committed to developing relationships across lines, such as race and religious denomination.

Provided congregations and organizations with the tools and steps the need to develop leaders to empower their own communities.


OTOC wins award for Outstanding Grassroots Organizing from Nebraska Appleseed

October 14th, 2019

On Thursday, October 10, 2019, OTOC leaders were awarded the Roots of Justice awards at the Nebraska Appleseed Good Apple Awards. The joyous night was filled with good food, inspiring award winners, and lots of smiles and laughter.

Thank you, Nebraska Appleseed to recognizing the long rooted work of OTOC in our community. Read more here

Thank you, OTOC for decades of work and change! You deserve this award!

Read More . . .

OTOC Leaders respond to lawsuit against new rental inspection ordinance

October 10th, 2019

OTOC calls on MOPOA for Collaboration, not Lawsuits

OWH Article 10/9/19

Channel 7 News Story with Restoring Dignity

Hannah Wyble of Restoring Dignity, a partner of OTOC, speaks to Channel 7 reporter about how the rental property registration and inspection ordinance is no cause for a lawsuit.

The Housing Action Team of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) is disappointed that the Metro Omaha Property Owners Association (MOPOA) has once again chosen a strategy of lawsuits over collaboration with other stakeholders in the city.

  1. We call on MOPOA to choose collaboration over more lawsuits.

Similar lawsuits from MOPOA in the past have done great damage and made the substandard living conditions at the Yale Park Apartments inevitable.  MOPOA has opposed nearly all efforts to improve neighborhoods, from the Omaha Land Bank and Abandoned and Vacant Registry, to the evacuation of Yale Park tenants and the Proactive Rental Registration and Inspection ordinance.

  1. The new Ordinance is Legal and Constitutional

The Nebraska Supreme Court has already ruled that Rental Registration and Inspection is constitutional, as La Vista has been operating a similar program for a decade.  Many cities in Iowa have operated such programs for decades.  The consent decree applies only to complaint-based inspections, not proactive inspections.  The Stothert Administration assured the public that the consent decree would not hamper any future program of rental registration and inspection. Most landlords find the new ordinance reasonable and are not joining the lawsuit.

  1. The new ordinance is needed after previous lawsuits and consent decrees have created a broken system

The Yale Park evacuation of 100 households and over 500 people was the direct result of the failure of the existing system of complaint-based inspections.


OTOC has raised the issue of substandard rental property with the city Planning Department since 2016.  In 2017 we asked candidates for City Council to learn about proactive rental inspections as a national best practice to these serious problems.  In April 2019 the mayor and the city council took a step forward with the passage and adoption of a proactive registration and rental inspection ordinance.  We applaud the ordinance, which puts health and safety of tenants and neighborhoods first.

1 – Lawsuit is unnecessary

The lawsuit is unnecessary.  An Omaha rental unit with a good track record of fixing any past violations will receive one inspection in the next twelve years, and will be charged $125 only one time for that inspection.  The city says when fully implemented they will hire a total of five additional inspectors to implement.  How could this possibly be the basis for a lawsuit?

2 – Rental Registration and Inspection is Constitutional

Renting residential property is a business.  Minimum health and safety standards are enforced by government, whether in restaurants or rental housing.  Hundreds of communities across the country operate proactive rental inspection programs.  Many of these programs exist in the region, including La Vista, Lincoln, Council Bluffs, and Carter Lake.  The Nebraska Supreme Court has already ruled in 2013, in another failed landlord lawsuit, that La Vista’s proactive rental inspection program is constitutional.  For several decades, every city in Iowa with a population greater than 15,000 has operated proactive rental registration and inspection systems without constitutional problems. Inspection ordinances have operated across the country for decades. The ordinance should be presumed to be constitutional.

3 – The new ordinance does not violate the consent decree.

Read More . . .

OTOC Leaders testify against delays and complications of Medicaid

September 29th, 2019

On Friday, Sept. 20, eight OTOC leaders traveled to Lincoln and participated in an action to express disapproval of the 1115 waiver filed by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). It substantially changes the law providing for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska that was passed by the voters as Initiative 427.

A press conference, organized by Nebraska Appleseed, was held before a hearing in the Rotunda of the Capitol, with over 30 supporters. Molly McCleery of Nebraska Appleseed opened the conference speaking of the vital need for health care for people to live a good life, and of the impact that expanding Medicaid could have on individuals and entire communities. She was followed by a Dr. Jane Potter of Omaha who spoke of the negative, life-long effects upon individuals caused by delaying needed medical care for a number of common, chronic conditions.

Dr. Carol LaCroix, a family physician, spoke on behalf of OTOC, citing OTOC’s concern for the common good and the faith perspective of caring of others as ones’ self that is OTOC’s foundation. She said that compassion for the sick and suffering was a major reason that she became a doctor. Compassion, she noted, is not valued by empires, because it undermines the structures that preserve the power of the empire. She questioned why the governor’s administration was erecting barriers to care and significantly delaying implementation of expansion. Senator Adam Morfeld, introducer of LR 170, a resolution for an oversight committee to monitor implementation, was the fourth speaker.

Read More . . .

OTOC Asks the City Council to Fund More Housing Inspectors in 2020 Budget

July 25th, 2019

OTOC Housing Leaders and Coalition Members Testify at the City Council Budget Hearing

Nine of the 19 speakers at the Omaha City Budget Hearing testified for more inspectors and proper funding for implementation of the new Rental Housing Registration and Inspection Ordinance passed in April of this year.

In the news:

Omaha World Herald: Advocates want more money in city budget for housing inspectors and recycling

Channel 3 KMTV: Public asks for more inspectors and to keep recycling program at budget hearing

Channel 7 KETV: Omaha residents voice concerns with proposed 2020 budget

8/15 follow up with Channel 7 KETV: Omaha mayor and planning department respond to code enforcement criticism

News Channel Nebraska: Housing Watchdogs Demand More Inspectors

Read More . . .

October Organizing Training

July 17th, 2019

Upcoming Training Opportunity

IPL and OTOC will host a 3-Day Organizing Training in October for an intensive weekend led by organizers from around the country.

Join us October 17-19 (Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon) at First United Methodist Church (7020 Cass St.)

Thursday 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM; Friday 9 AM – 7 PM; Saturday 9 AM – 12 PM

  • Do you want to learn effective organizing practices in order to create change in our local community?
  • Do you want to meet others who are committed to developing relationships across lines, such as race and religious denomination, that too often divide us?
  • Does your congregation or organization want to learn proven steps to develop leaders and enliven your entire congregation or organization?

If your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, come to learn from experienced organizers from across the network of OTOC’s sister organizations.

Registration Fee-$50 (includes Friday lunch & dinner).

Please make checks to the Institute for Public Leadership and send to 3647 Lafayette Ave. Omaha, NE 68131

For scholarship information, contact Cheri Cody at chericody@outlook.com

Register online here

Fillable Registration Sheet (PDF) 3-Day Training- Email to iplomaha@gmail.com or otocfornebraska@gmail.com

Printable Registration Sheet 3-Day Training (Oct 2019)Read More . . .

June Issue Cafes explore housing, organizing, power generation

June 30th, 2019

Environmental Sustainability with OPPD

On June 27, we had our final June issue cafe. 17 people attended to learn about three new OPPD programs: community solar, electrical vehicle rebates, and the low-income energy efficiency pilot. On April 1st, OPPD announced their community solar program that allows you to get affordable solar energy. Solar energy uses light from the sun to create energy, which serves as a clean and sustainable process. Each solar share is $0.69 per share for residents where each share represents 100 kilowatts per month. Then, another charge will be added to your OPPD bill. The shares, however, were completely sold out in just one month before they were even opened for commercial sales. The OPPD stronger suggested to enroll in the waitlist, which will help show the high demand and interest. Currently there are 250 on the waitlist, and you can join it too! The electric vehicle rebate program is a pilot program that incentives sustainable purchases. With a new electrical vehicle and a charging station, you can get a $2,500 rebate. A $500 rebate is offered for a charging station at home. Other rebates include dealership discounts and federal tax incentives. The low income energy efficiency pilot program partners with community philanthropies to educate and assist with homeowners with incomes at or below $32,000. The program allows professionals to go to each customer’s home in order to assess and fix any problems that decreases efficiency. Although this program is only for homeowners, the program wants to provide data that will potentially create a program for rental property as well. Overall, these programs can offer so much to our community!

Insights to Community Organizing with Paul Turner

Read More . . .

Spanish Leadership Formation

June 24th, 2019

80 Hispanic leaders from more than 21 different institutions gathered for a two-day leadership formation on June 21 and June 22. Sponsored by the Institute for Public Leadership, Omaha Together One Community, Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Inter-faith Education Fund, these participants learned how to connect one’s faith to relational organizing practices. The leadership curriculum was inspired by wisdom and faith tradition, using Scripture and theological readings. The training started with a shared meal at St. Pius X Catholic Church Friday night. Here, participants acted out Scripture in order to understand the purpose of community. Then, the training moved to College of St. Mary’s campus, where participants learned the purpose of baptismal community, collective leadership, pressure on families and communities and qualities of leadership. One of the participants Jose Fortoso stated that the training was a great learning experience and that he wished he would have this workshop earlier. The training closed with key learning points and goals that participants want to bring back to their congregations and institutions. This training has been available in various parts of the US, but we are hopeful that we can continue fostering the local Hispanic leadership.

Relationship buildings aids passage of American Dream and Promise Act in House

June 5th, 2019

The American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, passed in the House of Representatives on June 4

The bill passed with a 237-187 vote. Only seven republicans supported the bill, including our Omaha-area representative, Don Bacon. OTOC and TPS leaders have continually met with him, attended town halls, and called countless times to build a relationship with him, have him get to know the TPS recipients and Dreamers in his district so that he ultimately supported this bill. Other positive community out reach and pressure is effective in making positive steps in the right direction (see this article about Chamber of Commerce support for Dreamers and TPS). Continue readying to see more about how relationship-building helped influence Don Bacon’s vote and the outcome of this bill

From the Omaha World Herald: “They’re in no man’s land, and we should provide them some security,” Bacon said. “I’ve committed to these guys that I would not forget them.”

Building relationship with  Rep. Don Bacon

 Om May 7, the OTOC Immigration team and the TPS Committee secured a meeting with Rep. Bacon to renew his commitment to support legislation granting permanent status to TPS holders.  Rep. Bacon continued to encourage community education about TPS and reaffirmed his support for TPS. He committed to vote for a “clean” Dream and Promise Act, the only current legislation that would have a path to citizenship for TPS holders. He fulfilled this promise on June 4 by voting FOR H.R. 6!

Bacon also committed to working with OTOC and IPL to appear on local radio programs with a TPS holder to explain to their audience why Nebraska needs our TPS community. Bacon also committed to help TPS holders in Nebraska keep their drivers licenses through January 2019 (currently expires in September 2018)

Click here to read about visits to his DC office earlier this year, and here to see more info about our relationship with Rep. Don Bacon.

Who is My Neighbor- relationship building between groups

Read More . . .

Environmental Sustainability Efforts for Garbage Contract with City Council

April 24th, 2019

*Hopefully* Final Vote on August 27

The City Council is considering new bids from Contractors FCC and West Central Sanitation. OTOC does not have a preference for which company is chosen, but prefers a third year-round cart for yard waste.Contact your city council representative and ask them to ensure no yard waste makes it into the landfill.

Leaders in the News on this issue:

Omaha World Herald: Nobody can agree on what to do with Omaha’s yard waste, but a decision has to come soon

Channel 6 WOWT: City Council hears public comment on trash contract bids

Fox 42: Omaha City Council to consider two new bids for trash services

Previous Attempts at passing a proposal

During the week’s City Council Meeting on June 4, they discussed both the Ban the Bag ordinance and the mayor’s Garbage Contract Proposal. City Councilman Festersen began by acknowledging the major sustainable strides in Omaha. Wohlners Neighborhood Grocery created measures to not use plastic bag and offers a 5% discount for reusable bags. City Councilman Rich Pahls, pointed out how it was interesting to see the younger people really making an effort from kindergarten to graduate level classes. He encouraged the high school Students for Sustainability to “meet with the business world” to organize with all of the players to have a more comprehensive approach. He argued that a one size does not fit all and that he wants everyone to find their own solutions. City Councilman Harding, also agreed that all stakeholders must work together instead of focusing only on one component. The Students for Sustainability, however, have been organizing together, even collecting over 10,000 signatures for support of this ban the bag. They meet every two weeks during school year and once a week during the summer. In conclusion, the override of the mayor’s veto was unsuccessful with one vote short from a majority: four to three. City Councilman Harding, however, revealed that he is currently working on a resolution for plastic waste to not just plastic bag. He hopes to have it out soon. City Councilman Jerram suggested that the students use those 10,000 signatures to fuel another campaign to petition this issue to be on the 2020 ballot. City Councilman Palermo concluded stating this issue is not going anywhere.

On the other hand, Mayor Jean Stothert testified with new additions to the garbage proposal, explaining that she is listening to the concerns of her constituents. Her compromise is a $22.7 million, 10-year contract with FCC Environmental, that has an added Saturday collection for all of yard waste, with six weeks in spring and six weeks in fall to allow unlimited yard waste pick up, and a sticker program year-round. Larger households could also request three carts, instead of two, after 90 days at no additional charge. City Councilman Harding simply did not think it would be reasonable to have Saturday pickups for yard waste. City Councilman Jerram regarded this Saturday collection as “a sad reflection of the compost system in Omaha” and that he must recognize his constituents concerns for a contract that recognizes how separating yard waste is an environmental benefit. On the other hand, Council member Rich Pahls wants to pursue a contract with West Central Sanitation, a Minnesota company that proposed a less-expensive proposal to Omaha. Pahls recounts this company as “something unique.” In conclusion, the City Council members denied the proposal 6-1, which means the Omaha Public Works Department must create a new proposal and present to the city council before the current bids expire at the end of July.

OWH Failed Veto Override

OWH Garbage Contract

How we got here:

Read More . . .

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