Plans to tear down Omaha's largest public housing complex move forward

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Omaha’s largest public housing development may be on the chopping block. It’s a move the city is hoping will help transform South Omaha.

On Monday, in a joint effort, the City of Omaha and the housing authority applied for 1.3 million dollar grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; it would help in the planning to redevelop the area, including tearing down Southside Terrace Apartments.

“It’s part of a larger planning effort,” said Omaha Housing Authority, CEO, Joanie Poore.

“We’re looking at needs associated with housing and schools, and community, and workspace, and transportation and everything that’s needed in a similar way to what’s happened in the Spencer Homes area.”

The city recently recieved a $28 million grant to tear down Spencer Homes in North Omaha. The plan is to develop mixed-income housing; the same would be done at Southside Terrace.

With approximately 350 units, the number of people living a the complex is far greater than that. Many of the units housing up to five-person families. For the most part, people living in the apartments seem to like the idea of redevelopment.

“They’ve had these apartments for way too long,” said Darla Clendelen, a mother living in the complex. “I think it’s time for a change to make these apartments look better.”

The housing authority says people living in the apartments would receive vouchers to find housing while the area is redeveloped. But there’s concern from those working closely with low-income families, about finding homes for everyone.

"It's tough finding now the way it is available units from landlords who will take Section 8 (vouchers),” said Gerry Ford, a housing stability specialist, with Together Inc. “Just because they take it for one apartment at one property doesn't mean they take unit on the property doesn't mean they take it for everyone."

The city said its still years away from starting any potential demolition of Southside Terrace. They still have to go through the application and planning process. They expect to hear back from HUD in October about whether they will receive the grant.