LINCOLN — Omaha's two public housing agencies would design a plan for a new single agency under an amended bill advanced Thursday by the Nebraska Legislature.
Legislative Bill 49 originally mandated a merger of the Omaha Housing Authority and the Douglas County Housing Authority. An amendment by the Urban Affairs Committee allows the two agencies to work together over the next year on a plan to create a single office to address affordable housing issues and oversee federal housing programs in the city and county.
The Legislature adopted the amendment then advanced the bill to the second round of debate on a 39-0 vote.
Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, who formerly directed the Omaha Housing Authority, introduced the bill and spoke in favor of the amendment. After the floor vote, Ashford said leaders from each agency asked for the opportunity to collaborate on a new housing authority.
The purpose of creating a single agency would be to “create efficiencies” so more funds can be directed into affordable housing programs. Although a single agency would likely require fewer support staff, office equipment and maintenance workers, a fiscal note on the bill does not estimate the amount of the potential savings.
The bill would create a joint committee made up of two board members from each existing agency. Those four would then appoint three additional “independent” members to the committee.
The group would be required to submit to the Urban Affairs Committee a plan for the new housing agency by Jan. 1, 2014.
“I think it's a good compromise that moves us in the right direction,” said Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln, chairwoman of the Urban Affairs Committee.
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