Omaha Neighbors Suspicious of Habitat for Humanity’s New Development Vision

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Habitat for Humanity takes over 16 acres near 52nd and Sorensen Pkwy. The organization plans to build 88 new single-family homes, its largest project to date in Omaha.

But not everyone is happy with the plan.

“We’re going to do some walking trails, Wakonda Elementary School is right over there in that direction.”

As Habitat for Humanity’s Tracie McPherson walks the 16-acre site, reminders of the old Wintergreen apartment complex can still be seen.

“This area is made up of short units of affordable housing. Eighty-eight new homes are giving it a little push, but it still matters to those 88 families. They’re going to own this land, they’re going to own this house, and there’s just a different mindset when you own it. It’s not rental property, it’s landlords that will pay mortgage payments, pay property taxes like you do and these families are looking for that opportunity, ”McPherson said.

Habit is working to provide a geothermal water system and is working with OPPD. Construction of new homes will begin next fall.

Terrance Mackey lives nearby.

“It puts people in places to live. I mean, in any way you can improve, I’m all for that yeah. As long as you take care of your property, it’s cool but the little deer [sic] are going to have a hard time because they are confused.

The deer won’t be moved for a while. McPherson says it will take some time to clean up this property and put infrastructure in place.

“For 17 years, it has been vacant. But it has been an opportunity for 17 years. An opportunity for developers like Habitat to step in and write a new chapter for this place, ”said McPherson.

“I understand that Omaha needs more sustainable housing or affordable housing, but we also need to think about what has been here for so many years,” said Joy Bartling.

Joy Bartling runs Scatter Joy Acres, a non-profit petting zoo adjoining the development of Habitat. Bartling is concerned about the water problems created by 88 new homes in an area that already has drainage issues.

“I had concerns about water retention. How are you going to control this because it has not been controlled? If there is a sewer backing up and it has happened, it flows into our creek that we have in our area, then we have to move our animals to a safe enclosure until we can evacuate it. .

With more people in the immediate vicinity, Bartling is also concerned about vandalism, which she says is already happening.

“I can put up as many no-trespassing signs as I want, but you have teenagers or kids who see a cow on the other side of the fence and I want to go pet the cow and they hurt each other, I am still responsible. “

She hopes the development will include fencing, separating the properties to ensure the safety of residents and animals. Bartling also wonders what will become of the fauna already present.

“You go from city to country with a few laps of the tires on your car and nowadays money talks and that’s what is sad. This money speaks and nature does not win.

Tracie McPherson says the new homeowners will be responsible for making mortgage payments, adding property taxes to city coffers. Joy Bartling says she hopes Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership plan will attract people who are dedicated to improving the area.

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