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Rental Housing momentum on state and local levels

January 9th, 2019

State Hearing for Rental Inspection Bill (LB 85)

OTOC Leader Dennis Walsh with Restoring Dignity staff and tenants who testified on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Urban Affairs Committee of the Nebraska Unicameral heard citizen testimonies on LB 85, which would require Omaha and Lincoln to develop a Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance to ensure minimum health and safety standards are met in all rental properties. OTOC leaders testified in support of LB 85 along with tenants and other organizations like Restoring Dignity, Together, Family Housing Advisory Services, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, and others who submitted written testimony. WOWT, KETV, Omaha World Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and 1011 Now all provided news coverage of the hearing.   

 

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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:

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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.

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OTOC Helps Medicaid Expansion Pass in Nebraska!

November 15th, 2018

OTOC leaders have been hard at work for the last seven years to expand Medicaid in Nebraska, believing that expanded Medicaid was a solution for 90,000 Nebraskans who don’t have health insurance. In 2018, after another failed attempt to get a bill passed in the Unicameral, a statewide coalition lead a ballot initiative, raising over 135,000 petition signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the November ballot.

Over 50 OTOC leaders participated, raising at least 3,500 signatures and holding fifteen presentations in congregations across Omaha. With Initiative 427 successfully on the ballot, OTOC leaders continued having information sessions at congregations and community spaces, while also phone banking and canvasing with other volunteers from across the state. OTOC leaders also contributed several Public Pulse letters to the editor to the Omaha World Herald and newspapers across the state.

OTOC’s Work made a Difference!

Stats from how the votes came in on Nov. 6:

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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

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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:

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375 leaders get commitments from Congress & OPPD Candidates on September 18

September 21st, 2018

Photo by Omaha World Herald

The Omaha World Herald reporter opened his story about the evening by observing:

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Democrat Kara Eastman faced questions Monday on immigration, health care and a changing climate in front of a standing room-only crowd of more than 350 people.  In fact, nearly 400 people signed into the 2018  OTOC Accountability Session with candidates for US Congress and OPPD at St. Leo Catholic Church.

The packed crowd of OTOC and community leaders sought commitments from OPPD Board members on four topics:

  1. Taking leadership in the community to increase charging stations for electric vehicles by 100 over next 3 years
  2. Directing Staff to be work with community groups and investors who want to establish “community solar projects”
  3. Reducing or reversing the 2015 increase of the basic service charge from $10.25 per month to $30 per month
  4. Supporting the newly proposed SD 7 setting a goal to reduce carbon emissions to a level 20% below 2010 levels by 2030.

Click here to see Completed OPPD Score Card

The Accountability Session with Candidates for US Congress followed and OTOC leaders asked for commitments on the follow topics from Rep. Don Bacon and Candidate Kara Eastman:

  1. Naming their top three priorities for reforming our broken immigration system
  2. Taking a leading role in sponsoring and adopting legislation to grant permanent status to those individuals with Temporary Protected Status(TPS)
  3. Committing to continue the structure and funding for the federal share of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act
  4. Committing to continue the protections under the ACA for mental health parity and pre-existing conditions.
  5. Naming their top 2 strategies to reverse the effects of climate

Click here to see candidate responses: Completed Report Card for Congressional Candidates

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TPS Bus visits Omaha!

September 10th, 2018

Leaders from across the city welcomed the TPS Journey for Justice Caravan on September 4th and 5th. OTOC and the Institute for Public Leadership, along with Tri-Faith Initiative, the Columban Fathers, and the Schlegal Center for Service and Justice sponsored several events to let the Omaha community know what TPS is and invite them to act with us.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a legal immigration status for people in the US who fled environmental disasters such as hurricanes or civil unrest in their home countries.  Over 300,000 individuals have TPS which has been in place for decades with no serious legal problems.  The Department of Homeland Security has effectively ended TPS for almost all of these tax-paying law-abiding persons, including 1,500 Salvadorans living in Nebraska.  Their status will end in 2019 unless Congress acts.

We invite YOU to take action for the TPS holders in our community and across the country by calling your representatives today! Click here for a script.

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. 



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