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City of Tulsa Announces Four-Year Strategy to Deal With Affordable Housing Shortage

City of Tulsa

The City of Tulsa rolled out a plan Thursday to tackle its shortage of affordable housing units.

Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo said the city needs 3,000 to 4,000 more affordable housing units, and that gap has a big impact.

"One-third of Tulsans are actually paying more than one-third of their income toward rent or their mortgage. We’re the 11th-highest evictor in the country as well. And our homelessness numbers are continuing to rise — not astronomically, but they’re on the rise," Gligo said.

More than 12,000 Tulsa residents have been evicted this year, and the projected number of people who are homeless is close to 7,000.

The strategy includes steps like establishing an affordable housing trust fund, landlord licensing and supporting community efforts to build housing projects. Steps are aimed at strengthening neighborhoods, preserving existing affordable housing and building more.

Gligo said the affordable housing shortage affects more people than those receiving housing assistance.

"These are also people who are working in the service industry, who are making up to 120% of our area median income and are still deeply housing burdened," Gligo said.

In a presentation to the Governor's Interagency Council on Homelessness this week, Gligo said the housing strategy took six months to develop and involved meetings with advisory committees of developers, neighborhoods and service agencies.

Gligo also said the strategy is built around four core values: equitable community investment, long-term economic sustainability for all Tulsans, housing as a human right and holistic neighborhood reinvestment.

Equitable community investment means the strategy will deal with historic disinvestment in communities through practices like redlining or dividing them with highways, while holistic neighborhood reinvestment means officials recognize nice, new houses need good schools and services nearby.

The affordable housing strategy involves not just the city, but also organizations like school districts, Tulsa Housing Authority and agencies trying to end homelessness.

"And that is why I think that this is going to be successful, because of the comprehensive nature of it. We’re not trying to do this by ourselves at the city. This isn’t some city program that we’re announcing in house," said Mayor G.T. Bynum.

The strategy is currently a four-year plan with initiatives set to start rolling out in the first quarter of 2020, but officials hope to institutionalize many of its priorities.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.