Tulsa mayor announces initiative to eliminate substandard housing

Thursday, December 15th 2005, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

Around 8,200 homes in Tulsa are labeled sub-standard. That means they need major repair or they're so dilapidated they're not fit for living.

Tulsa's mayor wants to turn that around.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says a structure near 2nd and Quincy is the kind of home you don't want in your neighborhood. The peeling paint, broken steps and holey roof, is more than just an eyesore. One neighbor says he's concerned about safety. Jose Serrano: "well It's been an eyesore for a while, but I’m concerned homeless people will go in to try to get warm and they might burn it down and it might be a danger for the kids in the neighborhood.”

Based on information from the Tulsa County assessor, there are more than 8,000 sub-standard homes in Tulsa about 1,800 of them are not safe to live in.

Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune wants them all wiped out. “We want to have zero substandard houses by the year 2025."

A team of 100 community and business leaders has worked on a plan for two years to try to accomplish that goal. To take homes from dilapidated to desirable. Realtor Chuck Patterson: "the road to prosperity both individual prosperity better neighborhoods businesses and Tulsa as a whole has got to be paved with quality safe affordable housing."

The plan calls for a combination of public and private money to help rehabilitate and redevelop neighborhoods, with the neighborhoods themselves helping to come up with solutions. It would also give tax breaks to low-income homeowners to help them keep up their property, while beefing up enforcement of city codes to keep homes from going down hill.

Mayor Bill LaFortune: "for every home that we transform through rehab or it’s removed and a new one is built for every one we're attracting more development more growth for the city." It all sounds good to Jose Serrano, but it will look even better when he sees the eyesore replaced with a new home.

This effort is in response to a 21st century challenge by Habitat for Humanity International to eliminate substandard housing. The city is applying for official certification. If accepted, Tulsa will be only one of a dozen cities meeting the challenge.