Crews from the Omaha Housing Authority have been cleaning up garbage and debris at the vacant Spencer Homes East public housing apartments since a World-Herald story exposing the dirty, dangerous conditions there.
The agency also has told City Councilwoman Juanita Johnson that the property will be fenced off after a demolition contract is awarded, and that it has requested more police patrols of the site.
Johnson said the housing authority’s CEO, Joanie Poore, told her that a demolition contractor “will be able to immediately put up a fence around the area” once they are awarded the contract to raze the buildings at 27th and Spencer Streets.
“She doesn’t know how quickly they’ll be able to do that,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, the workaround is to do more security and continue cleaning up.”
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An Omaha Police Department spokesman confirmed Thursday that the department had received a request this week for more patrols.
“OPD has agreed to increase patrols in the area when call load allows and we have requested ABLE 1 (the police helicopter) to check the area when they are on patrol,” Officer Chris Gordon said by email.
The response came after North Omaha community advocates demanded action, including the immediate demolition of the six apartment buildings that are in a residential neighborhood and across the street from homes, including duplexes owned by the Omaha Housing Authority.
An article in Tuesday’s World-Herald revealed that the buildings, which were vacated in June 2022, had become a magnet for dumping, scavenging and people seeking shelter during the months the apartments have been left unsecured.
Advocates Celeste Butler and