Issue Cafes in November

IPL partners with OTOC to provide Issue Cafes to educate the public around current events, the work of OTOC Action Teams, and ways people can become engaged on issues important to them.

Emergency Mental Health Services

A panel of speakers spoke about emergency mental health services currently available in the Omaha Metro area and new ones being planned.

Some resources shared:

Nebraska Medicine Director of Behavioral Health: Dr. David Cates

UNMC will be opening a Psychiatric Emergency Service next July. They are currently treating 3,000  psychiatric crisis patients a year, but a regular emergency room is not ideal for someone in psychiatric crisis where staff may not be trained for that and wait times for specific psychiatric care can take up to 24 hours. They are currently only discharging 47% of psych patients, but would like to be closer to discharge at least 2/3 of psych patients

Lasting Hope

Lasting Hope is CHI’s psych ER open 24/7 open to all ages. They also have 64 adult inpatient care beds, including 12 special care beds. There is always a trained mental health professional on duty in the ER.

Omaha Police Department Mental Health Coordinator: Lindsay Kroll LIMHP

Omaha Police Department just established a mental health unit. They are still collecting data about the mental health calls they receive and respond to. Currently, there are three therapists who acts as a co-responders who self dispatch on mental health calls to arrive with law enforcement. Therapists are trained to act differently than regular law enforcement, and can often diffuse a crisis without acting with force. The program is working well, but they only have 3 co-responders that only work regular business hours. Another program the police department has in an opt-in training for officers to become Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) to better respond to metal health crises. This program is growing and offered to officers from across the state. They are also working to develop mental health first aid training for officers.

Director of Criminal Justice Behavioral Health initiatives at Region 6: Vicki Maca

Vicki works with the Stepping Up program for people who ended up in prison due to mental health emergencies. When the Mental Health system is not able to respond, many people end up in jail, and putting sick people in jail is not a good solution. The Stepping Up Initiative gives counties resources and support to reduce the mentally ill people in jail by bringing stakeholders together and collecting data about jail residents and their current care.  Then, the stakeholders develop a local plan to meet the following goals:

  1. Reduce the amount of people with mental illness in jails
  2. Reduce the stay of mentally ill people in jail
  3. Increase connections to community before release to provide a continuum of care and support
  4. reduce recidivism

Learn more about Region 6’s Stepping Up Initiative here


Housing Coalition

OTOC Housing team members, Restoring Dignity representatives, and Together Omaha advocates spoke to a crowd of 45 people on Thursday, November 14. Erin Feichtinger of Together gave an update about the new ordinance set to roll out in January 2020. We heard a story from a refugee community leader Paw Bwe Too about her family’s experience as a tenants in substandard housing and in other families she knows and works with. Hannah Wyble explained Restoring Dignity’s cleaning trainings they do with families at apartment complexes (learn more about the program here). We also heard from Dennis Walsh about the state of affordable housing in Omaha. See his presentation Here. Karen McElroy explained how we can continue acting for safer and more affordable housing in Omaha, specifically making it an election issue at the state legislature and Municipal elections in the next few year, as other comparable Midwest cities have done.

  • Housing Coalition Meeting

Dec. 18 at 4 pm

Augustana Lutheran Church, 3647 Lafayette

  • Meet with an OTOC Housing leader to learn more about how to get involved. email otocfornebraska@gmail.com
  • Omaha Housing Authority Board Meeting

Dec. 5, 8:30 am (recurring every first Thursday)

OHA office, 1823 Harney

  • Property Maintenance Appeals Board Meeting

Dec. 5, 1:30 pm (recurring every first Thursday)

Civic Center, 3rd Floor Jesse Lowe Conference Room, 1819 Farnam

  • Omaha Municipal Land Bank Board meeting

Dec. 11, 9 am (recurring every second Wednesday)

Civic Center, 3rd Floor Jesse Lowe Conference Room, 1819 Farnam

  • Volunteer with Restoring Dignity

Visit https://rdomaha.com/how-you-can-help/ to learn more

Take Action!

Call the Mayor’s hotline and your council person and encourage them to

  • 1) not settle with MOPOA
  • 2) change the 2015 consent decree

Learn more here

Mayor’s Hotline   402-444-5555    hotline@cityofomaha.org

Pete.Festersen@cityofomaha.org    402-444-5527

Ben.Gray@cityofomaha.org    402-444-5524

Chris.Jerram@cityofomaha.org   402-444-5525

Vinny.Palermo@cityofomaha.org   402-444-5522

Rich.Pahls@cityofomaha.org   402-444-5528

Brinker.Harding@cityofomaha.org   402-444-5523

Aimee.Melton@cityofomaha.org   402-444-5526


Immigration and Climate Change

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, 65 people gathered to hear from Dr. Richard Miller and Schulyer Geery-Zink. Dr. Miller, professor of Sustainable Studies at Creighton University spoke about the changing climate and how that can affect the movement of people.

The Problem:

Massive flooding, massive drought, and sea levels rising are all ways that would cause people to be displaced. Islands sinking, coast lands receding, and famine are just some of the examples of the massive changes happening on earth. There will continue to be more massive flooding and droughts for the next 1000 years. This means migration will keep rising. Schulyer Geery-Zink then spoke more specifically about climate migrants- when land is no longer habitable so people must leave. Though the number of climate migrants is rising as the world’s climate is changing, there is not a protected status for migrants going to other countries under both international law or US domestic law. So, migrants cannot apply for refugee status because they were displaced by climate.

Some solutions:

  • Stop and reverse climate change. The Earth needs a 50% carbon reduction by 2030. This is obviously much easier said than done, but continuing to fight for cleaner energy, better environmental policy, and pushing for the US to be a leader is reducing carbon emissions. The technology exists, it just needs to prioritized and available for wide use.
  • Comprehensive Immigration reform needs to be adopted in the US and the world to include processes for legal immigration for climate migrants. This could be through crating new immigration statuses, expanding the definitions for applying for refugee or asylum status, etc.
  • Support migrants already here in Nebraska. The Temporary Protected Status program has been cancelled, though some litigation and other arrangements have extended the deadline. Supporting Nebraska’s local climate and violence migrants by advocating for a permanent status acknowledges climate migrants and also creates a welcoming culture that can be expanded for larger numbers of migration. This is currently an issue being unnecessarily stuck in the Senate as a political tool; 62% of rural Nebraskans want undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for 5 years to stay and have a path to citizenship. Nebraska is an open state, but our senators are not voting that way.
  • Call your Congressional representatives and tell them to support immigrants in Nebraska – call often, give name and address and leave messages!
    Congressman Don Bacon   OMAHA: (402) 938-0300 WASHINGTON: (202) 225-4155
    Senator Ben Sasse   OMAHA (402) 476-1400 WASHINGTON: (202) 224-4224
    Senator Deb Fischer   OMAHA: (402) 441-4600 WASHINGTON: (202) 224-6551
  • Talking points:
    • Climate change is fueling migration to the U.S. and must be addressed!
    • We need comprehensive immigration reform that includes these priorities:                          
      • Humane treatment of all immigrants – no children in detention!
      • Family unification – no more separating children from their families!Respect for US laws governing asylum
      • Pathway to citizenship for immigrants including Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders

Payday Lending Ballot Initiative

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Leaders from OTOC and Nebraska Appleseed will explain the campaign to cap fees on payday loans at 36% APR (down from 404%) through a Nov. 2020 ballot initiative and how you and your institution can support the campaign.