The legislative chambers inside the Omaha/Douglas County Civic Center.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners allocated $100,000 of federal dollars to aid kids facing substandard housing and programs to help people facing homelessness. Commissioner Roger Garcia made both proposals for spending money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

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The board approved a $50,000 request by Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance for a program to provide education and resources for people experiencing diseases from substandard housing, focusing on lead exposure. Lead exposure stunts development in children and has been linked to learning disabilities. Another common outcome of bad housing is mold.

“One of the diseases that arises from that exposure is asthma, and asthma, of course, is not something good to have when it comes to COVID and the pandemic,” Garcia said.

Another $50,000 was allocated to Generation Diamond for a program to provide services for people facing homelessness, including shelter, mental health services and job training.

The Omaha City Council met for a brief meeting Tuesday, approving the creation of a Charter Study Convention this May. 

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The Charter Study Convention faced some criticism as Mayor Jean Stothert moved up the date for the convention from 2023 so that amendments can appear on the ballot this November. Typically conventions are held every 10 years. The last was held in 2013.

Stothert chose eight appointments and each City Council member chose one, and the nominees will be voted on later this month. 

The City Council also approved a $963,000 contract with Shekar Engineering for improvements to the trail system at the Riverfront. Last week, the City Council approved a contract to add an extension to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, nicknamed “Baby Bob.”.

“We’re making substantial progress on our connectivity, but also our parks and our pedestrian and cycling availability to downtown,” City Council President Pete Festersen said.

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