Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityBill trading tax breaks for affordable housing is passed by Oklahoma House | KTUL
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Bill trading tax breaks for affordable housing is passed by Oklahoma House

A Tulsa homeless camp is seen on Feb. 2021. (KTUL)
A Tulsa homeless camp is seen on Feb. 2021. (KTUL)
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A bill, which passed the Oklahoma House, could simultaneously save money and build affordable housing.

House Bill 2098 would allow Oklahomans selling a house to write off up to 1% of the sale as a tax break.

In exchange, that portion would be donated to a state fund for building affordable housing.

State Representative Forrest Bennett, who authored and co-sponsored the bill with Republican colleagues, believes it could be a bipartisan success story.

“I saw an opportunity to create a program that wouldn’t require us to raise taxes on anybody, but would also create a dedicated fund that eventually. Cities and towns and other entities looking to do affordable housing development, can look to as part of their funding solution," he said.

Bennett said this policy is successful in Australia, where it's a mandatory component of home sales.

For it to work in Oklahoma, he felt he had to make it optional.

“I’ve noticed the lawmakers I work with don’t like being told to do anything, and their constituents don’t like being told to do anything. But when we incentivize the kind of behavior that we want to see, more people are likely to participate,” said Bennett.

He believes the bill could be useful in resolving homelessness in Oklahoma.

Bennett said he's spurred on by the advice he got from an expert.

“He asked us, ‘What do you think the number one cause of homelessness is?’ And everybody went around the room, saying 'drug addiction, domestic abuse, mental health challenges.' ‘Those are all great answers, but the number one leading cause of homelessness is lack of homes.’ And we all said, ‘Right, we need to refocus,'" he said.

Bennett admitted he didn’t know how much of an immediate impact the policy would make.

“It’s so hard to tell because it’s hard to know how much participation we’ll get,” he said.

HB 2098 made an impact across the aisle and passed with huge bipartisan support, 76-6.

“I was so nervous about the vote that I was too busy watching the board, and I forgot to vote for my own bill,” said Bennett.

It now moves to the State Senate, the bill will be introduced by Bennett.

“In what I consider to be a pretty tense political environment, to have strong bipartisan support for an idea like that gives me a lot of hope. And I think it should give Oklahomans hope, too," he said.

NewsChannel 8 reached out to Housing Solutions Tulsa and the Tulsa Housing Authority to learn what impact this bill could have, but they were unavailable for comment.


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