June Issue Cafes explore housing, organizing, power generation

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

Influenced by the investigative process in Robert Caro’s article “The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives,” (Link to online article: click here.) Paul Turner led a captivating discussion about different strategies for community organizing. 50 members of our community gathered to learn methods that will positively benefit our community in the future. Turner identified persistent curiosity as an imperative method to thoroughly research and seek truth. People must ask deeper questions such as “Why are things the way they are?” and “Who is benefiting from this?” From here, people can listen and organize people to take the needed action. Turner analyzed the etymology of the term “self interest” as “to be among and between.” Here, interests are natural and important. Often, however, these interests can be competing, but a community can align the individual interests into one common interest. A community can also utilize local knowledge to understand everyone’s needs more than others can, such as expert knowledge. This emphasis on community can help us come together as brothers and sisters to listen, research, and take action towards a common goal. We believe Sarah Tooley, a sophomore Creighton student, said it best when she stated that these “community practices can be translated into different scenarios in my life now and in the future.” These strategies cannot only be used for organizing work within the community, but aspects of one’s everyday life as well. It has proven to be beneficial time and time again, especially throughout the history of OTOC. We look forward to the next Summer Training Seminar July 8th where we will learn more about community organizing.

What’s in the Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance?

The Housing Issue Cafe provided an overview of the housing coalition’s long and hard work for housing advocacy. The new mandatory housing registration and inspections ordinance was explained, but there was a huge focus on what we as a community need to do next. The ordinance is only one step of many to create better affordable housing for Omaha. One huge emphasis was the need to create a plan for what to do when the tenants’ homes are not following up to code and tenants are displaced. What agencies are responsible? Where can the tenants be relocated? What does this mean about options for affordable housing? With five different speakers and about 45 people present, the Urban Abbey was filled with motivated and empowered people with the same good: provide affordable and decent housing for the Omaha community.

Next Steps you can take for healthy, safe housing in Omaha:

Attend Rental Housing Coalition Meeting to Plan how to Influence Mayor and City Council

Thursday, June 20, 3:30 pm at Augustana Lutheran, 3647 Lafayette Ave.

At this meeting, coalition members will:

  • Strategize how to influence council members and the mayor to include adequate funding in the new ordinance for 2020 Budget Hearing (Budget released July 23, Hearing August 13)
  • Strategize how to influence the education part of the ordinance

Email Gloria Austerberry at glauster@yahoo.com if you would like to find out about future meetings.

Attend Property Maintenance Appeals Board

First Thursdays, 1:30 pm, Jesse Lowe Conference Room, Third floor of Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St.

More info here: https://planning.cityofomaha.org/boards/property-maintenance-appeals-board

Attend this public meeting to observe and let the group know that the public is watching. The Property Maintenance Appeals Board approves or denies maintenance extensions to landlords who have not been able to resolve code enforcement violations with the city code inspector.

Contact City Council Members and Mayor

Ask the Mayor and City Council member to include adequate funding in the 2020 Omaha Budget to support the new Registration and Inspections Ordinance.

AND

Ask your city council member and the mayor about what their displacement plan is as this ordinance rolls out. They need to be aware people are paying attention, and they need to be thinking about what to do about displacement when there is already a lack of safe, affordable housing.

Mayor Stothart: hotline@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5555

Festersen: Pete.Festersen@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5527

Gray: Ben.Gray@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5524

Jerram: Chris.Jerram@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5525

Palermo: Vinny.Palermo@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5522

Pahls: Rich.Pahls@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5528

Harding: Brinker.Harding@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5523

Melton: Aimee.Melton@cityofomaha.org 402-444-5526

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