Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is appointing a longtime north Omaha volunteer and neighborhood leader to represent Omaha Housing Authority residents on the OHA Board.
The appointee is Eric Burgin, 59. He lives at OHA’s Crown Tower public housing apartments. Burgin is president of the tower’s resident association. He also is president of the Monmouth Park and North Omaha Neighborhood Associations. Burgin has been a member of the Omaha Police Department’s northeast precinct advisory council for more than 15 years, and volunteers on a neighborhood citizen patrol.
Nebraska law requires the appointment of an OHA resident to the board. The seat has been vacant since February, when Steven Abraham, the previous resident representative, resigned. Stothert moved quickly to fill the seat after The World-Herald reported on the lengthy vacancy, although she has said that her staff had been working through a list of applicants submitted by the housing authority in June, and the agency’s leaders said they had fulfilled their duty by seeking residents’ applications and forwarding them to the Mayor’s Office.
Burgin’s name was not on the original list. The housing authority originally withheld it and dozens of others, saying the applications were incomplete. The agency forwarded Burgin’s and the others after he called the Mayor’s Hotline in recent weeks to inquire about the status of his application.
“Eric Burgin is not only qualified and in good standing with OHA, he is very active in neighborhoods, highly recommended and is excited to serve,” Stothert said. “He will represent the OHA residents exceptionally well.”
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City Council confirmation is needed for the appointment to become final. Stothert’s appointment is expected to go before the Omaha City Council on Nov. 5.
Burgin said he was happy to be appointed. He thanked Stothert and said he is eager to serve.
“I want to do what’s right for the people,” Burgin said Monday afternoon outside Crown Tower, where he was about to drive a neighbor from the apartments to a doctor’s appointment, after giving another neighbor a ride to a physical therapy appointment. “It’s really an honor to serve the people. With everything I’ve seen, I can really make some changes to help them.”
Another appointment could be coming soon.
The OHA Board also has no member from a racial minority. State law requires there to be at least one person of color on the board. The board has been all white since real estate executive George Achola, former in-house counsel for the housing authority, resigned from the board at the end of May.
OHA leaders and Stothert have said they have been searching for people qualified and willing to replace Achola. On Oct. 21, Stothert moved to accelerate the process; she asked the OHA board to give her a list of candidates by Oct. 25.