By: Michael B. at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson's Service Learning class.
Omaha is a vibrant city nestled in the heartland of America and is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and a strong sense of community. Like many urban areas, Omaha has faced its share of challenges, including blighted properties and vacant lots that have the potential to mar the landscape. However, the city has taken a proactive approach to revitalization through the establishment of the Omaha Land Bank.
What is a Land Bank?
A land bank is a public or nonprofit entity created to acquire, manage, and repurpose vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties. These properties are often considered liabilities, as they can contribute to urban blight, crime, and reduced property values. Land banks act as intermediaries, acquiring these properties and working towards their productive reuse, thereby facilitating community revitalization.
The Omaha Land Bank Initiative:
The Omaha Land Bank is a non-profit governmental organization that aspires to serve the community development intermediary. The Omaha Land Bank was established with the aim of addressing the issue of vacant and abandoned properties within the city limits. It operates under the guidance of the Omaha Municipal Land Bank Commission, a group of dedicated individuals focused on reimagining the city's neighborhoods.
- Property Acquisition: The Omaha Land Bank acquires properties through various means, including tax foreclosures, donations, and purchases. Once acquired, the land bank takes responsibility for these properties' maintenance, stabilization, and preservation.
- Community Engagement: A crucial aspect of the Omaha Land Bank's mission is engaging with the community. It actively seeks input from residents, neighborhood associations, and other stakeholders to understand their neighborhood needs and aspirations. This collaborative approach ensures that redevelopment efforts align with the community's vision, enhancing the overall impact.
- Property Repurposing and Development: The Omaha Land Bank works diligently to transform acquired properties into community assets. It explores various options for repurposing, such as creating affordable housing, establishing community gardens, or developing commercial spaces. The land bank breathes new life into previously neglected areas by repurposing vacant lots and abandoned structures, creating opportunities for residents, and attracting investments.
- Neighborhood Stabilization: Through strategic property acquisitions and targeted development efforts, the Omaha Land Bank contributes to neighborhood stabilization. It helps prevent further blight and encourages positive change, resulting in increased property values, reduced crime rates, and improved quality of life for residents.
- Economic Impact: The work of the Omaha Land Bank goes beyond revitalizing neighborhoods. By attracting new businesses, creating job opportunities, and increasing property values, the land bank plays a significant role in driving economic growth within the city. It fosters an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and attracts investment, further bolstering Omaha's economy.
Land banking is an important tool that creates pathways for stimulating the local economy by addressing systemic vacancy issues at its core. The Omaha Land Bank stands as a beacon of hope for communities grappling with vacant and abandoned properties. Through strategic planning, community engagement, and the transformation of blighted spaces into community assets, the land bank is revitalizing neighborhoods and driving economic growth.
Attend Freedomtainment's Level Up Career Fair
On Saturday, September 2nd from 11am-4pm at the Gene Leahy Mall, Freedomtainment will host the Level Up Job & Housing Fair for individuals that are ready to "level-up" or step up to a next level job, connect with Omaha area employers and resource providers. For more information and to register for the event, go to: www.tinyurl.com/LevelUpCareerFair
The family-friendly event will include free lunch* and the following activities:
- 12pm: Dance Team Competition by Crown My Crew and music by DJ Chevy
- 12pm-4pm: Free Haircuts by Keelan’s Barbershop (walk-up as available)
- 1, 2, 3 pm: Free Family Fitness Classes in the park by Top Flight Fitness
*while supplies last