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OTOC News

Author Richard Rothstein to speak with OTOC and Community Leaders

March 22nd, 2019

Monday March 25 & Tuesday March 26 with

Richard Rothstein

Author of New York Times Bestseller

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of how Our Government Segregated America 

Events:

Monday March 25–sponsored by Creighton University

7:30 pm  Speaking at Harper Center at Creighton University

602 N. 20th – Free Parking Garage on Cass St.

RSVP at https://excellence.creighton.edu/ColorOfLaw

 

Tues. March 26–hosted by OTOC and Institute for Public Leadership 

Housing Workshop, Family Housing Advisory Services, 2401 Lake St.

1:30 pm:  Meet and Greet with pastors, community organizations, and those interested in housing

2:00  pm: Rothstein and local housing experts present, followed by discussion

Workshop on Intersection of Education and Housing, Learning Community Center, 1612 N. 24th St.

4:00 p.m.  Discussion on how quality education and housing are closely related and what we can do to improve both in Omaha.

Click Here to RSVP for events on Tuesday

Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is also a fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley where he resides.

In his book, he “describes how federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential  segregation… The Color of Law forces us to face the  obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.” (from  book description)

“Through meticulous research and powerful human  stories, Rothstein reveals a history of racism hiding in  plain sight and compels us to confront the consequences of the intentional, decades-long governmental policies that created a segregated America.”   —Sherrilyn A. Ifill, president of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

OTOC Testifies Before City Council in Favor of Proactive Inspections

March 13th, 2019

On Tuesday, OTOC leaders joined tenants, nonprofits and landlords to testify in support of proactive inspections in Omaha. In front of a packed house at City Hall, OTOC leaders Karen McElroy, Rosie Volkmer, Gloria Austerberry, Dennis Walsh, Susan Kuhlman and Paul Romero laid out a comprehensive narrative that covered the background information of the problem of substandard property in the city, the failure of the current complaint-based system and the extensive research in support of rental inspection programs.

OTOC’s testimony was supplemented by the lived experiences of tenants and case workers from local nonprofits, that displayed to members of the City Council the horrendous conditions that tenants have been forced to live under. This powerful combination of experience and data shed light on the problem as well as the effectiveness of a proactive solution. OTOC organized this coalition with community partners like Together, Habitat for Humanity, Family Housing Advisory Services, Restoring Dignity, Neighborhood Alliances and associations, landlords, tenants, and community advocates.

 

After nearly four hours of testimony on Tuesday, the City Council is likely to delay the vote on the proposed ordinances that was set for next week, to give the council more time to alter the ordinances as necessary. Thank you to everyone who testified and the many who came to the meeting to show your support for OTOC and Omaha’s renting families.

OTOC leaders urge supporters to continue to pressure their City Council members to support a system of landlord registration with proactive inspections so that we can ensure that all people have access to healthy homes in our city.

News coverage can be found on the Omaha World Herald, KMTV, KPTM, KETV and WOWT.

Read More . . .

OTOC Leaders Testify against Payday Lending expansion at State Legislature

March 13th, 2019

Rod Kuhlmann (left) of Holy Name Church and Kevin Graham of First United Methodist Church presented testimony on behalf of the OTOC Payday Lending Action Team to the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature on Mar. 12, 2019, at the State Capitol.

Kuhlmann testified against LB 379, which would expand payday lending in Nebraska by permitting lenders to make loans online as well as in person. Graham testified against LB 265, which would create a new class of delayed deposit loan services for loans with larger principal amounts and with longer terms.

Kuhlmann and Graham both presented OTOC’s position that payday lending requires reform, not expansion, in Nebraska. Neither LB 379 nor LB 265 address the core problems of payday lending:

  1. The State Department of Banking reports that payday lending borrowers in Nebraska paid an average Annual Percentage Rate of 404% on their loans in 2017; and
  2. The State Department of Banking reports that borrowers renewed their payday loans an average of 11 times in 2017, paying a fee of $53 each time, because they could not repay the entire loan amount in 2 weeks.

Read More . . .

Celebrating 9 members of the Omaha Community who represented Nebraska at the 2019 TPS Summit in Washington DC

February 11th, 2019

Friday February 8th, Missioning Prayer and Despedida (Send-Off)

This past Friday, over 100 leaders from OTOC and the TPS Alliance of Nebraska gathered to hold a Prayer Service that celebrated both culture and faith for the 9 members of the Omaha community who are representing Nebraska at the TPS Summit in Washington DC from February 10—February 13. The Opening prayer and focus statement were given bilingually by Pastor Juan Carlos Veloso, along with Fr. Chris Saenz, who gave the Blessing to the travelers.

The group traveling to Washington DC was made up of 6 TPS holders, 2 seniors in high school who are the US citizen children of TPS holders, and a Creighton University student. The group flew to Washington DC on Saturday and is currently participating in advocacy, leadership training, and the March for TPS Justice on Tuesday, Feb 12.

Read More . . .

Solitary Confinement a mental health issue in Nebraska- Advocacy needed

February 5th, 2019

OTOC and community members heard from Doug Koebernick about Solitary Confinement in Nebraska and the harmful affects concentrated isolation has on mental health.

The evening started with a few minutes of the Frontline documentary Last Days of Solitary which shows the Maine solitary confinement system and the changes they’re made. The film really shows the inhumane conditions prisoners live in when they are considered a treat to other prisoners and staff, and are put in what Nebraska calls “Restrictive Housing.” Restrictive housing is defined as less than 12 hours out of the cell in a week. In Nebraska, the cells are 8 ft. by 10 ft. and include a bed, desk, toilet, and chair. Because of the massive overcrowding, inmates in restrictive housing are often doubled up in the small cell. There are currently 325 inmates in restrictive housing in Nebraska, and ten have serious diagnosed mental health issues.

There are many factors that lead to having such a large number of inmates in restricted housing:

Read More . . .

Rental Housing momentum on state and local levels

January 9th, 2019

City Council Ordinances

On March 12 at 2 pm at 1718 Farnam St, the City Council will have a hearing for three different ordinances pertaining to changes in how the city handles housing and code enforcement. If you are interested in testifying, please call us at 402-344-4401 or email at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for more information.

Summary of Ordinances

OWH Article about the Ordinances: Three proposals to regulate rentals head to the Omaha City Council. Here’s what each would do

OWH Article: Housing advocates push for more inspections of Omaha rental properties; landlords push back

Resources from OTOC

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 . . .

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:

Read More . . .



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