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'Extremely Blighted' Designation Spurs Investment in Nebraska Cities
The term "blight" and the designation of blighted areas are part of a long history rooted in racist urban policies, writes Jared Brey. "But in Nebraska, some cities are taking advantage of a change in state law that doubles down on the term, hoping it will help generate economic development and new affordable housing in areas that need it the most."
Last year the state started recognizing "extremely blighted" areas in neighborhoods already deemed blighted, with very high poverty and unemployment levels. "A bill approved by the legislature this spring gives priority to extremely blighted areas in applications for funding from the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund," says Brey.
Brey considers in more depth the implications of equating blight with disinvestment and urban renewal policies that decimated neighborhoods, many of which were communities of color. But advocates of the state legislation in Nebraska say it is a way to draw investment back into those communities and help residents build wealth through homeownership.