Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

A previous blogger, Diama Norris, first wrote about the 20K House Project on our blog back in 2009. The idea behind the project is the creation of affordable housing which serves as an alternative to mobile homes and expands homeownership among low-income individuals. The idea is as appealing now as it was when Diama first discussed it over 5 years ago.house keys

Rural Studio is the program behind the 20K House project. They are an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University. Rural Studio is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has much to show for it. Over the past two decades they have provided practical experiences for students who design and build projects benefiting underserved populations in rural Alabama.

The 20K House Project itself began in 2005, and has produced 12 versions of the 20K house. Each version was given away to residents in need who reside in and around Hale County. Now efforts are underway to take what Rural Studies has learned through this hands-on research project and create a marketable product. This will (more…)


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The Minimum Wage has been in the news quite a bit lately. Many are urging both states and the federal government to raise the wage, which has been set at $7.25 on a national level since 2009.

There also is something called the “housing wage,” which is determined by calculating the hourly rate a full-time worker needs to earn in order to pay only the recommended 30% of his or her income towards rent. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the housing wage in Tulsa County is currently $14.21 for a 2 bedroom apartment at fair market rent. So, in other words, for a household to afford rent on a 2 bedroom apartment, 2 people would need to be working full-time for at least minimum wage.

The annual income needed to keep housing costs affordable has increased $720 from 2013 to 2014. This increase means a family earning just enough to comfortably afford rent on a 2 bedroom unit in 2013 would need a 2.4% pay raise just to keep up with the rise in housing costs in Tulsa.

housing wage

Stepping back to look at Oklahoma as a whole, (more…)

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News about high rent and cuts to housing programs keep grabbing my attention. Three weeks ago, NPR took a look at the personal toll sequestration is taking on people struggling to secure affordable housing. Sequester Puts Some Needing Housing Aid ‘Back To Square One tells the story of two people who waited years to receive their housing voucher, only to have them rescinded due to budget cuts.

One young woman spent seven years on the waitlist for assistance. While she waited, she lost her job, and then her housing.  Word eventually came that she was approved for a voucher, but before she was able to secure housing it was revoked due to budget cuts. A Virginia man waited ten years for a voucher. He was finally scheduled for an interview with the housing authority, but it too was canceled due budget concerns. He continues to live on the street.

These dashed hopes are an outcome of sequestration, but the long wait times are part of a bigger problem. As mentioned in another NPR story, recent cuts came on top of a 25% cut to voucher programs in January of 2012.

Housing Choice Voucher Shortfall

Both NPR reports, and other sources, have supplied details on how housing authorities around the country are dealing with the loss of funding.

  • In Connecticut, the city of Hartford rescinded 88 newly issued vouchers.
  • Fort Worth, Texas rescinded 99 vouchers for families who had not yet signed a lease.
  • In Minnesota, 160 vouchers were put on hold. (more…)

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A couple of weeks ago I posted about the lack of affordable rental housing for families with low-income.  In essence, there is no state in the country where fair market rent is affordable for a single worker at minimum wage.  A partial solution to this crisis is provided by federal housing assistance, through vouchers or public housing.  However there are often waiting lists for these programs, as the demand outpaces the availability of funds.

Now, a recently released paper, authored by Douglas Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), lays out what sequestration cuts will mean for families who are either currently receiving housing assistance or on the waitlist.  The extremely short version is that state and federal agencies will probably have to cut assistance to about 140,000 families by early 2014 – and that just represents funding cuts for Housing Choice Vouchers, sometimes referred to as Section 8 Vouchers. The chart below gives a more detailed look at the cuts to vouchers, public housing, homeless assistance and other housing programs.


In Oklahoma, some of the pressure is already being felt by the agencies that receive and distribute federal housing assistance.  The Muskogee Phoenix reported in March that the Muskogee Housing Authority is expecting a $153,000 decrease in funds for Section 8 vouchers and an additional $167,000 decrease in funds for public housing programs.  While the housing authority has (more…)

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In May of 2011 our previous blog host, Elizabeth, wrote a couple of posts about the affordability of rental housing. (You can check them out by clicking here and here). I ran across her posts while searching for some background information on housing issues here in Tulsa. The numbers were nearly two years old, so I did a little digging to see what had changed. So far, I can tell you the answer is: not much.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recommends households spend no more than 30% of their income on housing. To calculate what is called the “housing wage” researchers take a person working full-time, and then calculate the hourly rate he or she would need in order to pay only 30% of their income towards rent.2013_OOR_Cover_1

The numbers have changed only slightly over the past two years.  In 2011, the NLIHC stated the annual income needed to afford a 2 bedroom unit at fair market rent in Tulsa was $28,440. For 2013, the NLIHC lists that figure at $28,840, an increase of $400 annually. (Click here for the Oklahoma Data .pdf) This means households in the Tulsa Metro Area require either a single renter earning at least $13.87 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR, or basically 2 adults working full-time at minimum wage. (more…)

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Brent Isaacs, AICP, Research Specialist for Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives, is our September guest blogger.

At the end of August, CAP’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives was pleased to host Michael Schubert, Principal of Community Development Strategies in Chicago to discuss issues related to the Kendall-Whittier Promise Neighborhoods effort. Mike came to us by way of NeighborWorks America, an organization of which CAP is pleased to be a network member.  Following our visit, he sent us a paper he wrote entitled Schools and Neighborhood Revitalization: An Invitation to New Thinking (Schools and Neighborhood Revitalization.pdf).

I was struck by the tone of this paper because it approached the subject from the perspective of whether neighborhood revitalization contributes to school improvement or academic achievement.  Most of the literature that I have read is from the opposite perspective:  how improving neighborhood schools assists in neighborhood revitalization.  Clearly, while there is a symbiotic relationship between neighborhoods and schools that is not often understood, CAP’s primary interest is in the former perspective. (more…)

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Good news continues to roll in for the Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field Neighborhoods.  Last December, CAP received a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant to focus on revitalization in both communities. The inspiration for Promise Neighborhoods is based on the successful model of New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, a program featured in Waiting for Superman and various other media. These grants fund programs in high poverty neighborhoods which have a proven capacity to build partnerships and possess the necessary systems to track kids through school, so no one falls through the cracks.

This week, the Tulsa World reported that Tulsa Public Schools pledged to provide longitudinal data to track Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field students as they progress through school.  This collaboration also includes a pledge to join with other partners in efforts to reform educational strategies. Taken together, this means CAP is in a better position to compete for a $7 million dollar grant to provide cradle-to-career services to children in the Eugene Field and Kendall-Whittier neighborhoods. (more…)

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