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  • Cathy O’Connor

Census makes a difference for services

I was pleased to learn that Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma received $830,000 from the CARES Act. Within 31 days, the organization had housed 102 veterans experiencing homelessness – an exceptional step toward removing the tallest hurdle for employment. Since July, Goodwill has faced a bottleneck in finding permanent, low-income housing in Oklahoma City and is paying for more than 160 veterans to live in hotels.

For those with lower incomes, quality housing is increasingly difficult to find. According to data from the Oklahoma City Housing Authority, Oklahoma City has experienced one of the highest increases in median rents in the entire country since 2000. Income growth has not risen correspondingly, and many residents are experiencing a much heavier rent burden, spending 50% or more of their income on housing.

One solution is to invest in the renovation of the nearly 3,000 public housing units in Oklahoma City. Federal funding to repair and modernize public housing has been cut nearly in half over the past decade, making it difficult to maintain safe and acceptable standards. The gap has been created in part by the significant reduction of federal grants that provide funding to the Oklahoma City Housing Authority and federal tax credits that incentivize developers to build affordable housing. In Oklahoma City between 2000-2013, for every 100 new housing units constructed, only five low-income housing units were built using tax credits. Reductions in federal funding shift the burden to the local level – MAPS 4 includes renovation and construction of new units, but we need to make every effort to get more federal share.

Read more at The Journal Record


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