Community Development News

Embracing diversity to help communities thrive

The faces of rural Nebraska have changed during the past 20 years as immigrants from many countries seek to live, work and raise families in the Midwest’s small towns and wide-open spaces.

Immigrants are opening businesses, shopping, working and making an economic impact in rural Nebraska. Communities that may have slowly disappeared from the map are now thriving because of diversity. And in some communities, the minority has become the majority.

Workforce housing is critical to vibrant rural communities

Affordable workforce housing is an important need in Nebraska. LB 518, the proposed Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, lays out challenges of limited and aging housing in rural communities; cost and contractor barriers to construction in rural communities; and the negative impact of low housing availability on the ability of employers to bring in and keep the workers they need.

The Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act provides one possible step towards a rural housing solution, although its definition of rural areas is inconsistent with more commonly used measures.

Think beyond biases to create welcoming communities

We all discriminate.

It does not matter if you are a person of color or not, female or male, young or old, gay or straight. We all discriminate.

I’m not talking about intentional discrimination, like denying housing based on gender or the color of skin. I’m talking about nonconscious discrimination that is caused by the way our brains work; and we are completely unaware.

Rural communities and schools are too reliant on property taxes

The Center for Rural Affairs agrees that property taxes are too high and local schools and government entities are too reliant on property taxes. This reliance upon property taxes for education and local government demands even the most comprehensive property tax relief plan receive careful scrutiny as these institutions underpin these existence of rural communities. While we recognize farmers and ranchers often bear the greatest burden, our mission is to support policy that builds strong rural communities and provides opportunity for all rural people.

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