Why Neighborhood Advocacy is Crucial

One Omaha’s advocacy initiative allows resident-led neighborhood and community groups to request our support for or against local policies. Public policies can have a significant impact on the quality of life for residents. They determine essential aspects of livability within a community, including:

• Funding for public services such as education, healthcare, and public safety

• Availability of affordable housing

• Quality of local infrastructure

• Economic opportunities within the community

Neighborhoods are a community’s building blocks and are vital in shaping the city’s character and identity. Neighborhoods are where residents live, work, and raise their families. They often have unique cultures and histories that shape them. Advocacy at the neighborhood level helps ensure that these special qualities are respected and valued and that residents have a voice in decisions that affect their community.

How can I get involved in neighborhood advocacy?

Speaking up for your neighborhood and the needs of people in your community is crucial in creating sustainable long-term solutions to problems that affect residents daily. Practicing advocacy requires an active and engaged group of neighbors and a willingness to work collaboratively to advocate for common goals and interests. You can get involved by:

• Getting active in local government. Residents can attend city council meetings and participate in public hearings to voice their concerns to local officials. Here’s a guide on how to testify at local meetings. 

• Organizing and mobilizing. Join a neighborhood association or alliance. These groups work together to identify common goals and concerns, and develop strategies to advocate for change. You can also organize a group around other shared interests like gardening or transportation issues.

• Building relationships with local organizations. By collaborating with local organizations, such as nonprofits, community groups, and businesses, residents can leverage resources and expertise to advocate for their community’s needs.

• Using social media. Online platforms allow you to share information, engage with local officials, and build awareness about issues. These platforms can also be used to organize and mobilize residents around shared concerns.

• Attending public events. Going to town hall meetings or community forums can help you learn about local issues while connecting with others who share your concerns and interests.

Why does One Omaha advocate?

• To encourage public discourse about policies that create healthier neighborhoods

• To lead the conversation about healthy neighborhoods

• To give voice to policies 

• To amplify the voices of neighborhood groups

• To encourage public spending on policies that lay the foundation for thriving neighborhoods

We advocate for local policies that address the needs and concerns of residents and support neighborhoods by fairly and equitably distributing resources. For example, we advocate for investment in affordable housing because all Omaha residents should have access to safe, stable housing, regardless of income or the neighborhood in which they live.

One Omaha was visible during the 2022 Omaha City Charter Convention, helping residents follow the convention to learn how to get involved and making recommendations for amendments to the Home Rule Charter based on building trust with residents and involving them in local decision-making. Our recommendations included the following:

• Preventing any head of a city department from holding public office in another municipality and requiring all heads of city departments to be residents of the city of Omaha to ensure resident needs are heard and met

• Requiring that the city’s master plan be updated every 10 years to aid in the development and redevelopment of Omaha as a modern and dynamic city 

• Creating and standardizing city-led community engagement for development, especially those developments receiving city subsidies such as TIF, to increase trust in local government

How does One Omaha advocate?

• Testifying at city council or county commissioners or any local policy-making entity

• Writing letters of support for local policy initiatives at the city, county, and state levels

• Helping to get a project or initiative off the ground by providing time or money through our COLLAB services, mini-grant, and connections to partnerships

Will One Omaha advocate for my group’s position?

Maybe! Check out our advocacy website for more information about our assistance criteria and to submit a request. Contact our Engagement Manager, Alex O’Hanlon, with any questions. 

This blog was written by Noelle Blood-Anderson, One Omaha’s communications manager. 

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