This story is part of (DIS)Invested — a longterm Reader investigation into Omaha’s inequities.
The City of Omaha announced its second distribution of the $112,591,455 it received in federal pandemic relief money Tuesday afternoon with much of it going toward addressing the city’s affordable housing crisis.
The city’s $20 million distribution of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money was matched by $20 million in philanthropic donations. The city has also applied for another $20 million from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money will serve households earning earning less than 120% of area median income and prioritize people below 80% of the economic measure, according to a city press release.
Plans for the funds include:
- Short-term loans and grants to increase affordable and mixed-income housing by developing a variety of for-sale and rental affordable housing options across the city;
- Acquisition, site remediation and preparation, and pre-development of properties for affordable housing projects;
- Homebuyer support including down payment assistance;
- Preservation of existing affordable housing units.
The plan must be approved by the Omaha City Council and will appear on its agenda June 28 before a public hearing on July 19 and a vote July 26.
The city and Front Porch Investments, the housing nonprofit which gathered the philanthropic funds, will distribute the funds in two rounds by ARPA’s 2026 spending deadline. Requests for the first round of funding will open in August, according to the city’s press release, and will award short-term loans lasting 18-24 months. Loans will be awarded in November. By 2025 those loans will be repaid allowing the money to be awarded a second time through grants.
If awarded, the HUD money will go toward rehabilitation of multi-family housing and construction of Choice neighborhoods, areas earmarked y the federal government for extra funding to address poverty. In Omaha, those areas are entirely in North and South Omaha.
This city also allocated money to upgrade 10 parks, facilities and public spaces including:
- Mandan Park – 6215 S 13th St.
- Fontenelle Park – 4407 Fontenelle Blvd.
- Pipal Park – 7770 Hascall St.
- Lynch Park – 2200 South 21st St.
- Paxton-John Creighton Boulevard Trail
- Elmwood Pool
- Hitchcock Pool
- Benson Community Center – 6008 Maple St.
- Memorial Park
- Clarkson Park – 124 N 42nd St.
The city also allocated $1 million for business improvement districts. Areas like Benson, North 24th Street and others that have official organizations dedicated to improving their local economies can submit proposals for the money later this year.
$425,000 was also allocated to pay for city-wide positions to oversee affordable housing and homelessness.
The city’s housing manager, which will manage implementation of the city’s affordable housing action plan, still in development, will be paid $225,000 over two years and work in the city’s planning department.
A homeless services coordinator in the Mayor’s office will make $200,000 over the next two years to oversee a city-wide approach to providing homelessness services. After two years, the position’s future work will be funded through the city’s general fund.
Another $700,000 was allocated to the Juvenile Justice Center Plaza.
In total, the city has allocated all but about $17.7 million of its total ARPA allocation.
The city distributed its first round of ARPA funds in May 2021, mostly to assist area hotels and nonprofits.