On Monday, April 30 the Young Professionals Council and GOCYP hosted “Policy & A Pint: Why Affordable Housing Matters to Young People”.

Discussion centered around barriers and benefits to affordable housing. The event helped individuals identify ways to advocate for a stronger city. Presenting at the event were a panel of experts; policy makers, developers and community and neighborhood engagement representatives including:

  • Arun Agarwal, CEO and Founder of White Lotus Group
  • Christian Gray, Executive Director of inCOMMON Community Development
  • Meridith Dillon, Planner, City of Omaha
  • Tony Vargas, State Senator 7th District

How did we get here?

For Omaha, the topic of affordable housing  is something that didn’t happen overnight. Like many communities, the process of redlining resulted in the denial of access to credit for non-white neighborhoods. (See Omaha redlining map)- After redlining was outlawed we still saw segregation in public housing, steering by the real estate market, zoning restrictions and community opposition.

For the YPs, the topic of affordable housing came up through the 2015 YP survey. One of the five themes of the YP survey was “community development and transit” In 2018, the Public Engagement Committee has focused on affordable housing and public transportation as two areas for policy setting and engagement of young people.

Talking about solutions to affordable housing, there is no easy answer, but it starts with education on it’s impact. Affordable housing is an issue that impacts teachers, police officers, your barista or bartender and you.

After the event’s panel, tables broke into groups to discuss and understand important points and ideas. The recurring themes of action include:

  • Get involved in your neighborhood association. You have a stronger voice with others, and you may need to be the voice FOR affordable housing in your neighborhood. Contact ONE Omaha for more information.
  • Let elected officials know that you care. Contact the Mayor and your City Council representative. The Mayor can be reached at the Mayors Hotline: 402-444-555 or City Council
  • Support public transportation. We can reduce our overall cost of living by using public transportation. On average, $8,500 is the cost that AAA estimates each of us spends per year owning an automobile. Start looking at taking Metro to work, car pool, ride your bike, get excited about ORBT.
  • Attend the open house for Regional Fair Housing Assessment. Join in Saturday, May 19, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at 2416 Lake Street. The Regional Housing Assessment was conducted over the last 2 years and this open house represents the findings and strategies to address fair and affordable housing.

What’s next?

The GOYP will put together a one page position on affordable housing with goals and specific actions we’d like to see happen. Stay tuned to dive deeper into these actions at State of Our City.