'Tax Cuts And Jobs Act' Could Spell Trouble For Tulsa Homeless
TULSA, Oklahoma - A new report shows homelessness is up 2.2% overall in Oklahoma compared to last year and up nearly 24% for families.
Public housing can help, but the Tulsa Housing Authority is preparing for big cuts if the current tax reform bill passes.
This is a problem that could get worse.
3,000 people are already on the Tulsa Housing Authority's waiting list.
If Congress approves the 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act', that number could climb, meaning more families out on the streets.
"We have just been overwhelmed by the numbers of people who have needed emergency shelters," said Reverend Steve Whitaker with John 3:16.
150 beds at John 3:16 are taken.
"Every night we're full and overflowing and sleeping people in our lobby," Whitaker said.
From veterans to the chronically homeless plagued with addiction, to families going through a hard time.
"There are different kinds of homelessness and people tend to characterize it as all the same, 'people are homeless, so you know what difference does it make?’" Whitaker said.
The fastest growing group is children.
"Because when mom goes homeless, the kids go homeless," said Whitaker.
The Tulsa Housing Authority is the first go-to for John 3:16.
"We've given them lots of clients that come directly out of our program but they're ready to be employable, they're ready to get back in the work market," Whitaker said.
But some experts say if Congress passes the tax reform bill, affordable housing will take a crippling hit.
"I know for us specifically, you're looking at more than 1,000 units impacted,” said Aaron Darden with the Tulsa Housing Authority.
The plan will essentially get rid of a 4% tax credit program used to help finance low-income housing.
"We have approximately $34 million in capital needs in the next five years and tax credits are one of the main tools we'll be using or hoping to use," said Darden.
Cuts would put construction of new public housing or needed renovations in jeopardy, and likely mean John 3:16 will stay at max capacity.
“It backs people back out into the streets. Or it adds to the number of people sleeping in the lobby on a bench. And that's not very hospitable," said Whitaker.
The Tulsa housing authority helps 20,000 people every year.
The housing authority president sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to reject the proposal.