Sarpy County could have a comprehensive housing study to guide its growth if a local nonprofit’s grant application is approved.
The Housing Foundation for Sarpy County, a nonprofit affiliated with the Bellevue Housing Agency, is applying for a housing study grant from the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority.
Carolyn Pospisil, executive director of BHA, said the goal is to determine the housing needs and best uses for the county as it grows, and that includes all types of housing, not just affordable housing.
The study will cost $52,000, 49 percent of which can be covered by the grant. Hanna:Keelan Associates, a community research firm, will conduct the study and will take six months to complete, Pospisil said.
No Sarpy County entity has ever received a grant under the program. Omaha organizations such as inCommon Community Development along Park Avenue and the Omaha Community Foundation and Omaha By Design for the Benson area are past recipients.
There hadn’t been a driving catalyst to get a countywide study done, but Pospisil said conversations started within the foundation about two years ago. The foundation has received support from all of the county’s municipalities and she is confident the foundation will receive the grant.
“I just feel like everybody is finally at the same table when it comes to, ‘Let’s look at the county as a whole,’” she said. “I hope that more of those conversations continue.”
Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said the study will tie in well with the county’s growth plans now that the Sarpy County Sewer Agency could open up $3 billion in development in the southern portions of the county.
“Housing is related to everything we do as a government in Sarpy County, both in terms of economic development and quality of life,” he said.
“It’s going to be really important that as we go through the planning and zoning process that we incorporate those goals and philosophies into those plans.”
The spring’s flooding exposed the need for low-income housing in Sarpy County, Kelly said, and in the future the county will need to make sure there is affordable housing for all demographics.
Pospisil said the BHA is aware there is an affordable housing shortage in the county, but doesn’t know the extent of the need. The information provided by the study will allow BHA and the county’s municipalities to have more informed conversations with developers about bringing in affordable housing, she said.
“Everyone else knows we need it,” she said. “We need to be on the same page.”
HFSC will know if it received the grant around the end of June or beginning of July.
Correction: This article previously misstated the name of the group supplying the grant. It is the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority.