Stimulus Money Would Allow Tulsa's Habitat For Humanity To Renovate Homes

Wednesday, January 12th 2011, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Habitat for Humanity in Tulsa plans to go after a $1 million government grant that could start them off in a new direction, away from just building new houses.

The Tulsa Habitat for Humanity restore room is filled with things used to renovate homes. Thousands of new and used construction items are stocked and sold at a deep discount to raise money for Habitat.

Ironically, Tulsa Habitat doesn't renovate homes, it only builds new. But a new grant could redefine their mission.

"And we would go in a rehab these particular homes and then sell them to habitat families, who are of course low income people," said Paul Kent, Habitat Executive Director.

Paul Kent, the Executive Director, says Tulsa Habitat is applying for a $1 million grant through the stimulus program.

It's through a "Neighborhood Stabilization Program," which is part of HUD. There's $5 million for Oklahoma, in grants no smaller than $1 million each. The program targets foreclosed properties, paying for rehabilitation, with the requirement they're resold to low income families.

If Tulsa Habitat were to get the grant, they would use the money to buy homes in distressed neighborhoods. They would specifically target foreclosed homes they could rehabilitate and sell to Habitat families.

Kent says the grant could help Habitat revitalize an entire neighborhood instead of just building a few homes at a time.

"We're looking now to go back to some of our roots, where we would be rehabbing some homes and have new housing stock too," he said. "This is a way for Habitat to be able to serve more families here in Tulsa."

Last year, Tulsa Habitat volunteers built 22 new homes. They're sold with zero interest mortgages to families who pay about $285 a month. The new grant would help more families get into quality homes they can afford.

Habitat figures there are 6,000 families in substandard homes just in Tulsa. They're having public meetings this Friday, January 14, 2011, to explain the problem and the effort to get this grant.