Omaha making progress in demolishing vacant, run-down homes

Some abandoned homes in Omaha will soon be demolished
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 4:18 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A block of condemned properties sits near 25th and Ohio. Neighbors say some of the homes have been vacant so long, they actually have a negative neighborhood history.

“The red house that was down there, a fire had started, they don’t know,” said area resident Sunshine Melendez. “I imagine they believe it was homeless guys shacking up in there. Also that same house, there was a standoff, so that’s what I talk about when I talk about not letting my kids out learning how to ride bikes or skating like that. You don’t know who’s going to pop out of those buildings.”

Omaha city officials say it does take time to put properties on the list to be demolished -- they have to go through a process first.

“There is notice required, legal notice required, to property owners to give them a chance to fix the property,” said Omaha planning director Dave Fanslau. “That’s what we prefer, and it does take some time.”

The city says it's making progress on a list of taking down condemned, vacant homes.

Fanslau says Omaha is moving faster, demolishing 60 to 70 properties per year.

“A number of years ago, we had a pretty big backlog, and then we dedicated the resources to demos and it’s proven that now we don’t have as many as we used to.”

Fanslau says they’re making progress because the Omaha City Council has provided more money to knock down more dilapidated properties.

“The City Council has increased that budgetary amount for the last several years,” said Omaha city councilman Pete Festersen. “There was a backlog many years ago. Now we’re largely caught up. There’s $800,000 in the city budget for this purpose.”

Knocking down run-down homes is expensive. It’ll cost about $28,000 to demolish this home near 94th and Pacific; $23,500 to clear this mess near 168th and Maple; and another $25,000 to take care of the property near 20th and Ohio.

City officials say they do work to recover funds once a building or home is demolished.

“Every time the city spends general fund money on demolishing a house, there’s a lien placed on that property, so when the new owner comes in and buys it, and/or wants to redevelop it, they have to pay that lien, and then it comes back to the city,” Festersen said.

Melendez hopes demolishing this eyesore will start change in her neighborhood.

“I just hope it brings a positive outlook on where we are,” Melendez said.

Right now, about 130 properties are in line to be demolished in Omaha. City officials tell 6 News demolishing homes is complaint-driven -- if you have an eyesore in your neighborhood, the first step in solving the issue is to contact the city planning department.