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Where you live can critically impact your quality of life, including health, security, and education. Stable, sufficient housing that meets the household’s needs encourages connections with neighbors, can lower crime, and instill a sense of pride. However, a lack of safe, reliable, and efficient housing can have the opposite effect, causing neighborhoods to deteriorate as residents leave for other areas and businesses decline or exit.


While our community is often considered an affordable place to live, a closer look at rental costs shows that is not true for all. To afford a two-bedroom apartment, a renter in our community would need to make $18 an hour. In the metro, 25% of households make less than $17 an hour.

Almost 1 in 2 local renters are spending too much on housing. It is recommended that less than 30% of a household’s income be spent on housing costs. In our community, 45% of renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing costs. Of those who own their own home, only 19% spend more than 30% of their income on their home and related costs.

Housing Quality

Iowa and Nebraska have some of the lowest rates of housing problems in the country. Iowa ranks #3 and Nebraska ranks #6. Both states have a lower percentage of households with severe housing problems than other states. A severe housing problem is defined as occupied housing units with at least one of the following problems: lack of complete kitchen facilities, lack of plumbing facilities, overcrowding, or severely cost-burdened occupants

However, people of color are disproportionately impacted by housing problems. While Nebraska only has 13% of occupied housing units experiencing severe housing problems, there is a racial disparity among those impacted. Iowa’s racial disparity along these lines is even greater than Nebraska’s.


Racial disparities in homeownership exist. White residents own homes at a rate 36% higher than Black residents. From 2010 to 2018 all races in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro saw a steady decline in homeownership. Black residents saw the greatest impact with a 6% decline, compared to 4% in white residents. These disparities may indicate that systemic inequity exists.

We have a lower rate of Black homeownership than the national average.


Since 2015, the percentages of people who are chronically homeless and those who are homeless with mental illness have doubled.

Based on point-in-time counts, we have fewer homeless individuals per capita than similar Midwestern cities.

Data Sources:

U.S. Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 5-Year Estimates Table B25106 & S1901 (geographic area includes the Omaha-Council Bluffs MSA, which includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington, Saunders, Pottawattamie, Mills & Harrison Counties). H2050 Equity Profile. The Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2020 Fair Market Rent (FMR).

America’s Health Rankings Reports on Severe Housing Problems and Housing with Lead Risk.

U.S. Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 5-Year Estimates, Tables B25003A, B25003B, B25003I & B25003 (geographic area includes the Omaha-Council Bluffs MSA, which includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington, Saunders, Pottawattamie, Mills & Harrison Counties).

U.S. Census American Community Survey CP05, 5-year data 2014-2018 for the Omaha-Council Bluffs MSA; NE-501 Omaha and Council Bluffs CoC Emergency Shelter (ES): Data Comparison of Annual Progress Reports 2015-2019; HUD Exchange data from; MACCH Coordinated Entry Dashboard; MACCH’s website:

Housing Findings

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