The City of Omaha began efforts Thursday morning to relocate nearly 500 refugees who live at the Yale Park Apartments at 34th and Lake.
After receiving more than 90 complaints of deplorable conditions since Friday the city sent in housing inspectors, mechanics, electricians, plumbers and OFD fire inspectors.
Some of the complaints include bedbugs, lice, rodents, gas leaks, mold and collapsed ceilings. Some residents say they had no air conditioning. Most of the residents are from Myramar, in southeast Asia. About 170 of them are children who attend 18 different schools in OPS.
Mayor Jean Stothert says calls it a "humanitarian effort". The city has prepared two community centers to serve as shelters until temporary housing can be found. The City brought in 600 cots and the Salvation Army is prepared to feed them for several days. Several social service agenices and other community groups will be working to find the residents temporary housing.
So far none of the tennants have been relocated. City officials say it's not known how long it will take them to complete inspections of all of the units.
As for what brought the complaints to the boiling point, Dr. Franklin Thompson, head of Omaha Human Rights & Relations, said, "When you come from a third world country you come from an experience that's pretty traumatic and so when you come to America, sub-standard here, still looks good. And the residents had to decide what was the tipping point."
Stothert says "For somebody that's a refugee in this country, to settle for this and say it's better than where I came from, that's something that I think would tear at all of our hearts. I don't want people that are refugees to feel like this is what it's like living in the United States or this is what it's like living in Omaha, Nebraska and it's okay because it's not okay."