For the past 42 years, the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has promoted progress and improvement among communities throughout Nebraska and around the nation. During March 28-April 2, National Community Development Week is celebrating the accomplishments of communities and projects that are encouraging economic growth and development.
Today at the State Capitol, Gov. Pete Ricketts, and officials from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and several communities gathered to publicly recognize these outstanding efforts.
Gov. Ricketts kicked off the celebration by proclaiming March 28-April 2, 2016, as Community Development (CD) Week in Nebraska and welcoming those in attendance.
“Community Development Week is an opportunity to highlight the numerous partnerships between volunteers, local organizations, government, and the private sector that help grow Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts. “CDBG projects have provided opportunities to gain access to resources that will enable communities throughout Nebraska to prosper.”
The Governor went on to share how the CDBG program in Nebraska has helped fund 270 projects with $50 million, in combination with over $84 million in leveraged state, local, and private matching funds, and benefitted more than 240,000 people and 118 communities.
DED administers CDBG funding for all communities outside the cities of Omaha, Lincoln and Bellevue.
The Governor’s Showcase Community Award recognizes a community or communities every year that have demonstrated exceptional efforts in community development over the previous five years. This includes the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for economic and community growth, along with demonstrated success in other state and national grant, loan, and tax incentive programs, including the Civic Community Center Financing Fund, the HOME program, and the Community Development Assistance Act.
This year’s Showcase Community Award was presented to the community of Superior (pop. 1,957) (please see attached jpg of City of Superior representatives with Gov. Ricketts) with an Honorable Mention going to Red Cloud (pop. 1,020).
Superior worked on many different projects over the past five years. One was an $8 million expansion of Brodstone Memorial Hospital. With this expansion, the community has gained outstanding health care. Residents now have access to patient care, emergency services, home health services, and a family medical clinic. Along with that, 22 specialty practitioners travel to the hospital every month to meet with patients and perform procedures.
In 2015, Superior began a Downtown Revitalization, Phase I, project and was awarded $30,000 in CDBG funding for planning activities related to making improvements. Expansions took place in multiple businesses. The local Casey’s General and Dollar General stores created new facilities.
Superior became a Certified Leadership Community in 2015. The community put great effort into the application process and came together to earn this certification.
Local investments have played a big part in Superior’s development. Eleven local business facades were improved. Volunteers came together to save and restore the city auditorium and movie theatre. A partially collapsed downtown office building was removed with funding from both the City and Nuckolls County. Other projects included construction of a $1 million roadway bridge funded by the Nebraska Department of Roads and the city, Sidewalk renovations, and the addition of bike paths. A Solid Waste Management and Action Plan was also created through local funding and a $30,000 CDBG award.
Mayor Sonia Schmidt personally accepted the award on behalf of the City of Superior. Overall, Superior has shown great success locally and put tremendous effort into its community development, earning it this year’s Showcase Community Award.
Red Cloud has displayed remarkable community development planning efforts. This strong planning combined with immense collaboration was what earned them this year’s Honorable Mention.
The Republican Valley Child Development Center has created a lot of excitement for the community. Projecting a completion and opening date in late 2017, the facility will be a non-profit, professionally staffed operation. The Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund created the Republican Valley Child Development Center Planning Committee in October 2014, to provide input into the facility’s and program’s design, regularly update the community recruit fundraising volunteers, and secure 38% of the project funding before formally launching the project. To date, the project has raised around $1.1 million in private donations, and received $250,000 in CDBG Public Works funding, and $65,000 from the City. The state-of-the-art facility is designed to ensure that children receive high quality care and education. Other project highlights in Red Cloud include construction of the Cherry Corner Estates Assisted Living Center which has been tremendous for senior residents and is used for community events; and restoration of and additions to the Auld Public Library with more than $750,000 in personal donations and grants from multiple organizations, including DED, the Kiewit Foundation, the Kinder Porter Scott Family Foundation, and Glenwood Communications.
Mayor Gary Ratzlaff accepted the award on behalf of the city of Red Cloud. Red Cloud made great efforts and show a bright future ahead of them.
This year the City of Bellevue recognized Rebuilding Together Omaha and presented the organization with its 2016 Bellevue CDBG Achievement Award. Rebuilding Together Omaha approached the City about partnering to develop a program to assist elderly and permanently disabled homeowners with home repairs.
Rebuilding Together Omaha focused on providing assistance to homeowners who couldn’t afford to hire the work to be done and didn’t have the physical ability to do the work themselves. Rebuilding Together Omaha’s mission is to bring volunteers and community members together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners. This created permanent housing stability for homeowners, and reduced the number of substandard housing units within the City while maintaining the existing affordable housing stock.
Mayor Rita Sanders presented the award. The City of Bellevue was glad to recognize the efforts of a nonprofit organization that partnered with the CDBG program to address its needs for affordable housing.
This year the City of Lincoln recognized Everett Neighborhood Association with the 2016 Lincoln CDBG Achievement Award for the 11th Street streetscape project.
Lincoln was chosen to participate in the national “Greening America’s Capitals” campaign, which helped extend funding for the effort. Through this program, the Environmental Protection Agency brought on Vireo, a design firm, that proposed the following three major changes to 11th Street: Applied “Complete Streets” design principles to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and comfort; designed pedestrian improvements, including curb “bump-outs” at the intersections; and explored options for increasing tree canopy and installing green infrastructure elements (such as rain gardens) to manage and treat storm water runoff.
Community stakeholders were encouraged to offer input during a three-day design charrette. To encourage charrette participation, the Everett Neighborhood Association went door to door to personally invite every resident, area business and property owner, and area organization official. Everett Elementary School teachers, staff, students and their families were also all invited to participate. A full spectrum of Everett community stakeholders attended the charrette and enthusiastically participated. They attended breakout sessions on small business and new technologies, environment and sustainability, history, art and culture, and schools. They identified the area’s strengths and challenges, as well as strategies for addressing the challenges.
Now, 11th Street is more pedestrian friendly, features a traffic circle at 11th and D streets, offers on-street bicycle parking and painted bicycle lanes, and is planning to install pedestrian lighting. The Everett Neighborhood Association went through great efforts to complete this project, and made it successful through the daily involvement of many people.
David Landis, Director of the City of Lincoln Urban Development Department, presented the award to Everett Neighborhood Association.
The City of Lincoln recognized all the efforts made by Everett Neighborhood Association to address this need for the 11th Street streetscape.
This year, the City of Omaha recognized the local Omaha organizations of Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity, Holy Name Housing Corporation, and Gesu Housing Corporation, for the commonly held goal of constructing quality affordable housing, and the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance for its collaborations throughout the City, each with 2016 City of Omaha Community Excellence Awards.
The Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) continues its efforts to build on the physical, economic and social vitality of North Omaha neighborhoods, making them desirable places to live, work and play. OEDC, in partnership with other public and private agencies, has built more than 500 multi-family rental units, in developments including Kellom Heights and Ville de Sante. They also have constructed single-family homes, rehabbed the historic building, The Margaret, and built the Village East Senior Apartments.
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha has partnered with more than 1,173 families, providing nearly 500 homes. Thousands of donors and volunteers have worked together with Habitat Omaha Partner Families to make these services a reality. Habitat Omaha’s revitalized properties contribute more than $440,000 in property taxes paid annually by the homeowners. Prior to this, the properties had very little value. Habitat for Humanity Omaha also committed resources to the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and the Roof and Repair Program to help build Omaha, block by block, and rid it of blighted homes. Since 2008, Habitat of Humanity Omaha’s Roof and Repair Program has completed 332 projects, helping families make affordable exterior home repairs. Through sweat equity and other programs, Habitat Omaha has helped educate partner families on what it takes to be successful homeowners. Habitat Omaha is also fully engaged in the Deer Park and King Science Neighborhood initiatives. Through its partnerships, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha has built stronger neighborhoods and effected measurable change.
Holy Name Housing Corporation’s focus on affordable housing has become the foundation for its approach to rebuilding neighborhoods. Holy Name Housing has invested over $68.4 million in enhancing the quality of housing in North Omaha neighborhoods. It has built 338 new homes and sold 161 to North Omaha families. Holy Name Housing has created three moderate-income subdivisions: Monmouth Park, Fontenelle Estates and Charles Ridge. An additional 175 single-family homes have been constructed under its CROWN rent-to-own program, with another 30 CROWN homes currently under construction. Holy Name has also built three elderly housing developments in North Omaha, providing a total of 56 cottages for low-income seniors, and restored the historic Leo Vaughan Manor, providing 37 apartments for elderly residents. It is presently working to secure financing for 29 additional single-family homes, and is about to begin constructing 18 senior cottages at Adams Park. Holy Name is a model for how to rebuild city neighborhoods. Bankers, lawyers, accountants and community leaders have provided their expertise to keep Holy Name operating as effectively as a good business with a social mission.
Gesu Housing, Inc., works closely with the Omaha City Planning Department, Omaha100, and HallMarq Construction to stabilize neighborhoods with quality, energy efficient affordable housing. Gesu Housing’s goals are to help the area’s working, low- to moderate-income people realize their dreams of home ownership, and alleviate poverty. The beneficial impacts of Gesu’s approach is seen in the Clifton Hills neighborhood, a 12-square- block area in North Omaha, where 33 Energy Star Certified homes have been built and sold within the last 14 years. Five additional homes are currently under construction in Clifton Hills with a completion date of May 2016. Gesu also received funding approval from the City of Omaha and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build five more during fall 2016. This will bring the total to 43 families living in new homes in the Clifton Hills neighborhood. In 14 years not a single family has moved out of their home, or been foreclosed on. All of Gesu Housing’s construction projects are in-fill in the Clifton Hills neighborhood, meaning 38 vacant lots now have new homes on them. Gesu Housing hopes to continue placing families in new affordable homes and expand their reach into more neighborhoods.
The South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance (SONA) was the first ever alliance in the City of Omaha. Originally, the Alliance represented 13 neighborhood associations. Today it represents more than 50 associations and non-profits. SONA later helped form five alliances, giving them a stronger voice in the community and providing a viable model to apply throughout the City of Omaha. SONA has helped enhance South Omaha neighborhoods through collaboration, empowerment and promotion of positive change. SONA plays an essential role in sharing pertinent information, resources and contacts and its ability to award grants to struggling neighborhood associations improves its capacity to positively impact the entire city.
Norita Matt, city planner for the City of Omaha, presented awards to each of these organizations.
The City of Omaha was proud to recognize all the efforts made by each of the organizations to improve housing and the greater Omaha area.