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Housing, parks and people; City of Omaha announces plans to spend $40 million of federal dollars

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 19:42:05-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Using federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced Tuesday they’ll be spending over $40 million on housing, people and parks among other priorities.

Housing advocates have said for years that the city of Omaha has an affordable housing deficit of around 80,000 homes. The city is now throwing in millions of dollars with more money behind to begin to make up that deficit.

Stothert said the city will spend $20 million on affordable housing but that also includes partnering with non-profit Front Porch Investments, who’s matching the funds.

Ideally, the money would add over 1,000 homes.

“We have to increase, we have to increase that capacity. We have to have that momentum and inertia to actually propel us to get to that number and reach it,” said Meridith Dillon, executive director at Front Porch Investments.

And possible state and federal grants could add another $40 million dollars with plans aiming at reducing the number of people in the city paying over 30% of their income on housing.

“So that they’re not housing burdened and they have the ability to pay for the other things that they need like their healthcare and their childcare or anything like that,” said Dillon.

The city is also planning on spending nearly $10 million on city parks. It targets parks like Mandan, Fontenelle, Pipal and Lynch Park. This also includes rehabbing Hitchcock and Elmwood Pool.

“They’re some of the most used facilities each season, often reaching capacity on extremely hot days,” said Parks Director Matt Kalcevich.

All 2,700 city employees including the Omaha Police and Fire Departments, but not elected officials, will be receiving $3,000 each in premium pay. This has a total of $9 million.

“So we felt like this was our way of really saying thank you to them,” said Stothert.

That money will be handed out in a period of months from July to November. The city will also be creating two new positions. One program is tasked with managing housing and the other coordinating homeless services.

ARPA money will pay for both for a period of two years and the homeless services coordinator will then be funded by the city’s general fund.

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