Trying to find affordable housing in the metro

Posted at 10:25 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 11:32:30-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Affordable housing is an issue here in the metro area. Now, a grassroots campaign called Missing Middle Housing is calling for change.

“If you commit large amounts of land to single housing units it is going to drive housing costs upwards. As you have more density and create more housing options in walkable dense locations, it drives housing costs down. Creating diverse housing options is critical to having more affordable housing for those both buying and renting in Omaha,” said Will Green, founder of Missing Middle Housing.

So what does missing middle housing look like? Think duplexes, townhomes or multiplexes built to fit into existing residential neighborhoods — encouraging people to live, work and shop locally in their own neighborhood.

A great example is Little Italy and the Bohemian Village.

“Those professionals not making hundreds of thousands of dollars, they want affordable housing close to work, that is what Missing Middle Housing brings for me,” said Sri Madla, Missing Middle Housing supporter.

The walkability factor is key when it comes to identifying and developing these communities.

“To me, it is very important to walk to work. I want to reduce carbon emissions and my carbon footprint, I want to reduce that. I believe Missing Middle Housing is bringing that to people like me,” said Madla.

The City of Omaha has spent millions of dollars building a public transportation system. Supporters of Missing Middle Housing said in order for that transportation system to work, they need to build more diverse housing.

The group plans to make this an issue during upcoming elections.

“What we are asking is for all of the candidates for city council and mayor is, 'What is your plan to end exclusionary zoning?' The zoning code today only allows large lot single-detached and that is not serving Omaha,” said Green.

City officials would need to put forth an ordinance to amend the zoning code to allow for the variety of housing options to help close the gap in missing middle housing.

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