Housing advocates lobby as Legislature debates housing funds

March 13, 2024, 3 p.m. ·

Housing Advocates at State Capitol
Housing advocates lobbied at the State Capitol on Wednesday. Sen. Tony Vargas spoke about the importance of affordable housing. (Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

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On Wednesday, housing advocates lobbied at the State Capitol for ten bills they say would help expand access to housing in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, in the Nebraska Legislature, senators are debating a proposal that would take $25 million that was originally slated for affordable housing and use it for a different kind of housing.

Affordable housing is geared toward lower-income buyers. Under the budget proposed by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, $20 million would be shifted to rural workforce housing, and $5 million would go to middle income housing.

Sen. Tony Vargas said this is a short-term solution.

“But this is a band aid, this is not a sustainable solution," he said. "We should also not be taking funds from one housing program to be able to sustainably fund another.”

The loss of money from the affordable housing fund won’t have an impact because the money wasn’t being used. Vargas said this is due to the Department of Economic Development being slow in awarding money, and that housing organizations should ask for more of those funds.