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Omaha Land Bank gets new chief executive

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — Since 2014, the Omaha Municipal Land Bank has been working to convert distressed vacant lots into productive land.

This mission has been challenging – the land bank has to deal with back taxes, mortgages for demolition and cleanup of weeds and debris. This can make buying property expensive.

CEO Leslie Smith has been on the job for less than a month, but is already on the job.

“Based on our strategic plan, we need to go out into the community,” Smith said. “We need to be more transparent. We need to align with existing efforts.”

Smith has experience helping grow a land bank in Memphis, Tennessee, but she says she wants to learn more about Omaha and the needs of her community.

“So I find it very difficult for me to come in from the outside and tell people what I would like them to see,” Smith said. “I would like the community to fulfill their needs to help transform these empty properties into assets that they help advise on.”

Omaha Land Bank has a new chief executive, and she says she’s thrilled to meet and work with the local community.

The Omaha Municipal Land Bank owns over 300 properties. Most of them are located in North Omaha. Some of them are ready for development; there are other places where officials will need neighbors to support the idea of ​​improving their area.

“I would like to work in the North Omaha area first,” Smith said. “I would like to get to know people, get involved, make myself known so we can build a relationship of trust…develop a meaningful and effective relationship and then make sure they know how to access the properties in the land bank.”

The Omaha Land Bank is working to transform property into community assets, grow productive green spaces, and create affordable housing that is lacking across the country.

“I think if we had more small developers, the people of North Omaha could create wealth for generations. This is the way to accumulate wealth in America,” Smith said.

Smith says she is excited to be on the job and adds that the land bank’s previous management has built a solid foundation and good staff.

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