28 July 2005
OKC wants you to buy a house
Since much of the focus in the press (and occasionally on this site) has been on high-buck urban living, I figure it's about time to mention some local residences that can actually be purchased by mere mortals. Last December I wrote about one of the city's efforts to create some affordable housing; the specific instance was a group of six new houses along NE 5th Terrace between Washington Park and the Health Center area.
This is apparently going well enough to justify further investments. The city has teamed up with MidFirst Bank, which provided a line of credit for those first houses, to help move old housing stock in the central city (NW/NE 50th to SW/SE 59th, Portland to Bryant) through a combination of two loans to buyers, one from MidFirst to buy and one from the city to rehabilitate, and here's the punchline: the loan from the city does not have to be repaid so long as the buyer owns and lives in the house. Participants in the program can earn no more than 80 percent of the local median and will have to meet MidFirst's credit standards, and the city will assume the hook for a maximum of $33,500.
Other programs are being developed. At the last meeting, City Council approved a contract with Mustard Seed Development Corporation, a faith-based organization in the Old Britton area, for construction of three new homes west of NW 88th and Walker, and a couple of houses owned by the city were turned over to Habitat for Humanity.
In 2000, 59 percent of houses in Oklahoma City were occupied by their owners, a touch below the national average of 66 percent. The city evidently thinks that it's worth the effort to bring up that percentage, and I'm inclined to agree.