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Transitional center for former inmates approved

Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 19:15:43-05

A center that will be home to dozens of people who were recently incarcerated will be built in the metro.  Officials say transition homes like these keep offenders from committing the same type of crime in the future.

On Tuesday the Omaha City Council unanimously approved a special use permit for Dismas Charities to create a residential re-entry center.  The project is located in the industrial park just north of Eppley Airfield, and will house people from the Omaha area who are transitioning from federal prison back to society.  It will be staffed 24/7, and up to 78 men and 17 women will reside there.

Last week concerned business owners told the council what issues they had with the facility.  Dismas Charities and business representatives got together on their own to work out an Addendum to Operating Statement.

“They don’t want us to operate their facility.  We want to make sure that those commitments that the applicant made out to the businesses are carried out in an enforceable way,” said Ken Bunger who represents two business owners.

The addendum includes sidewalks for the pedestrian traffic, no trespassing, and that businesses can carry on with operations even if noise is an issue.  Plus they’ll put together a Community Relations Board to resolve issues themselves.

All involved say a facility like this is needed to keep recidivism down for a better quality of life for all.

"That can be hard and in fact I don’t know anybody that says yes I would like that in my backyard, but we need to have it and in fact people will be safer,” Councilwoman Aimee Melton explained.

Another reason for the Community Relations Board is because the city council doesn’t want the Omaha Planning Department to have to enforce these private agreements.