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Douglas County CARES Funding for Rental Assistance – Applications open now!

July 27th, 2020

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted last Tuesday, July 14th, to finalize a plan that allocates $10 million of the $166 million of Douglas County’s CARES Act funds for rental assistance. Influential in this decision was the engagement of leaders from Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) who met with many of the Commissioners to discuss the imminent threat of COVID-19 related evictions and how CARES Act funds could help keep impacted families in their homes.


OTOC leaders conducted research and found that previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, a startling 47% of renters in Douglas County were rent-burdened, meaning that they spend over 30% of their monthly income on rent. With 46,557 new initial claims for unemployment in Douglas County filed between 3/21-6/13, OTOC says it’s likely there are more rent burdened residents than ever. Further, a new report on evictions in Omaha clearly demonstrates how minority and low-income neighborhoods in North and South Omaha are hotspots both for COVID-19 infections and for evictions.


Amidst a pandemic it is easy to recognize that housing is a serious public health issue. Eviction court has been open since the moratorium issued by Governor Ricketts on evictions expired at the end of May, and even federally-funded housing projects will become vulnerable again at the end of July.


OTOC leader and member of Augustana Lutheran Church, Gloria Austerberry, said,


“OTOC has been working with the County Commissioners to develop a rental assistance program for those who have been hit especially hard during this pandemic. Under normal circumstances, evictions are detrimental for families. In the context of the pandemic, evictions hurt the whole community by removing the ability to practice social isolation safely in their homes. Preventing them whenever possible protects children especially, and all the institutions like education, social services, and health care that serve them. We are pleased that the Commissioners have prioritized keeping people in their homes and are doing their part to keep our County healthy and safe.”


OTOC said that many of the Commissioners were open to increasing the funding for the rental assistance program, including Chair of the Board Commissioner Duda, who said, “We could potentially increase the funding the funding for rental assistance if we feel it’s necessary.” OTOC’s research says it could take $35 million to meet the need in Douglas County. The county’s website is live now, and the application will open on Monday, July 27th. Eligibility guidelines and instructions are available online, and there are several organizations available to assist people with the application. Those organizations include:

  • East African Development Association of Nebraska, (402) 708-4106
  • Heart Ministry Center, (402) 681-1321
  • Latino Center for the Midlands, (402) 733-2720
  • Open Door Mission, (402) 829-1545
  • Omaha Public Schools – Early Childhood Development, (531) 299-9146
  • Siena Francis House, (402) 341-1821
  • Together Omaha, (402) 345-8046 ext 205

Rental challenges are enormous. County Board can help greatly!

June 21st, 2020


Imagine dozens, if not hundreds, of families in Douglas County getting evicted every week for non-payment of rent starting the first of July. This is part of the context for a momentous challenge the Douglas County Board of Commissioners is facing. They must distribute $166 million from the federal CARES Act to address the COVID-19-related burdens of local governments and county residents. At its May 18 meeting, the board heard moving stories of suffering in our county. Clearly, remedies are needed now.

Read More . . .

OTOC Statement on Racism

June 19th, 2020


OTOC Statement on Racism

We join with people of faith across the country in standing with Black communities and affirming unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.

We vow to examine our own hearts, to acknowledge the prejudices we find there, and to admit how they contribute to the racist systems of our society.

We grieve with the families of George Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock in Omaha and all the countless Black and Brown families who have lost loved ones to acts of violence.

We commit to seek out and develop new and rekindled relationships with those institutions that are leading efforts to reform systems that foster racism, and to support their efforts.

We will not be complicit through silence or inaction. We promise to hold ourselves accountable to these commitments, and to make them a priority.

Protections for Meatpacking workers needed now!

May 7th, 2020

1. Protect Public Health

Meatpacking plants are prominent employers in communities across Nebraska. With so many workers working in close quarters with little protections, community spread multiplies. OWH OTOC Op Ed with UFCW: Nebraska needs strong action to protect packing plant workers

2. Protect food supply chains

Nebraska meatpacking plants feed the country. President Trump wants plants open, but that can’t happen if there are no healthy workers. OWH: Grocery stores limiting meat purchases

3. Protect Vulnerable Families

Read More . . .

Mental Health Resources

April 17th, 2020

OTOC recognizes that everyone’s mental health is being impacted from our new current reality. Stress, loneliness,isolation, fear, and sorrow are taking a toll on everyone. Existing mental health conditions are also exacerbated. We have compiled some resources we hope you find helpful. Remember, you are not alone.

*We are not mental health professionals. These resources and opportunities are provided by mental health organizations unaffiliated with OTOC*


Crisis Resources

Methodist Hospital’s Mental Health Hotline:  (402) 815-8255

EAP Covid Counseling Hotline: 800-801-4182

NAMI Mental Health Crisis Line: 800-950-6264

Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE

Prevencion del Suicidio: (888) 628-9454

Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE or 800-787-3224

Resources for Clinical Mental Health Issues

NAMI Family support meetings for family and friends of people with a mental illness- online meetings now available! Email namionlinefamilies@yahoo.com or register here to sign up.

How to Deal with Coronavirus If You Have OCD or Anxiety from Vice Health

Free recurring trainings from Grief’s Journey: “Ambiguous Grief 101: Self Care” (Tues/Thurs) and “Ambiguous Grief 101: Supporting Youth” (Wed/Fri).

Resources When You Can’t Afford Therapy from Greatest

Region Six Resource BookRegion 6 Behavioral Health is the body that allocates funds to behavioral health programs. This packet describes their current mental health programs.

For Congregations and Pastors

10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care in the Coronaviruas Outbreak from the Christian Century

Catholic Charities Tips

Spiritual Practices for the Coronavirus Pandemic from Spirituality and Practice

Mental Health Ministries, an organization “producing high quality resources to reduce the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities and to lift up the important role of faith/spirituality in the treatment and recovery process.”

Tips, Advice, and Ideas

The Kim Foundation 

Psych Hub free resources: https://psychhub.com/covid-19/

Mental Health America (MHA) has curated a list of mental health resources related to COVID-19

Supporting Employee Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic visual guide from Mind Share Partners

Human Connection Bolsters the Immune System

The Greater Good in Action site has compiled personal exercises to foster compassion, connection, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, kindness, mindfulness, optimism, resilience, self-compassion, and more! On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:00pm, join The Greater Good Science Center Facebook page for free 20-minute sessions with practices to boost resilience, connection, and positivity.

HealthyLife Special COVID-19 Edition newsletter from the American Institute for Preventive Medicine. Also check out their COVID-19 resource, Wellbeing From Home.

Developing a Positive Emotional Culture During Times of Change: six purposeful acts for supporting a positive emotional (and social) culture in your organization during times of change.

Five Ways to Stay Well While Working from Home from Daily Nurse

COVID-19: Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-based and Community Leaders from Mental Health Ministries and the Partnership Center

How to survive coronavirus anxiety: 8 tips from mental health experts by By A. Pawlowski from Today at NBC

Knowing and sharing Facts can help stop stigma about the virus  from the CDC

Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak from the Mental Heath Foundation

Mental Health Tips for Quarentine for Families from Mental Health Ministries



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