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Townhall hopes to bring Somali community needs to Omaha city leaders

Sunday September 26, 2021
By Waverle Monroe

'There's a concern about the housing issues,' Mahamed Jimale says

OMAHA, Neb. — The East African Development Association of Nebraska, or EADAN, hosted its first town hall since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents of the Somali community say they want to be heard.

"There's a concern about the housing issues," Mahamed Jimale said.

Jimale is a part of the EADAN. He said the Somali population continues to grow and is well into the thousands.

"They say they have been here some of them 20 years," Jimale said. "Some say they've been here five or six years. The community is talking about how they can get land so they can have their own housing."

City of Omaha deputy chief of staff for economic development Kevin Andersen said this town hall is just the beginning of a path to finding housing solutions.

"It's going to be a lot of listening right now to see what the overall needs of the community are. I asked them for input on things like, 'Where are kids going to school? Where are they working? How are they getting to work?' That's going to help us work collaboratively with this community," Andersen said.

Jimale says the community is not aware of where resources are and EADAN was established two years ago with that focus in mind.

"We're trying to help navigate those families to show them at least where they can get services," Jimale said.

Prior to EADAN, Jimale said there was a disconnect.

"Generally, East African people think they are forgotten," Jimale said.

The meeting also brought in MAACH, Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Department of Human Rights and Relations to answer questions.

Jimale hopes meetings like this will build bridges between the Somali community and Omaha city leaders.

"Our goal is for the city of Omaha to listen to these families," Jimale said.



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