BENNETT WINS PASSAGE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING BILL
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB2098 on Tuesday. The bill, authored by Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-OKC), would bring the state one more step toward long term affordable housing solutions in the state of Oklahoma. The legislation comes from a 2022 interim study conducted by Bennett and co-author Rep. Daniel Pae (R-Lawton) on the underlying causes of homelessness. “Folks find themselves experiencing or on the cusp of homelessness for a variety of reasons,” Bennett said. “And while we work to address the other concerns, making way for the development of available, attainable affordable housing should be a top priority for us here in Oklahoma.” One idea that came from the interim study, colloquially called “Homes for Homes,” has been the basis for this legislation. The idea is that when a person sells personal property, like a home, they would be able to donate up to 1% of the proceeds to a fund overseen by the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. The fund could then ultimately be utilized by cities and towns and other entities when exploring funding mechanisms for the development of affordable housing. “We think this is a winning idea for Oklahoma,” said Bennett. “The fund would be grown intentionally by charitable residents of our state, who would be rewarded for that generosity by being able to deduct the value of their gift from their taxable income.” Participants would be eligible for tax deductions up to 1% of the sale value, with a cap on property sales of $5 million. “The idea of tax incentives is to encourage the kind of behavior you want to see – and creating a way for the state to support the development of much-needed affordable housing seems like the perfect behavior to encourage,” Bennett said regarding the program. The bill, which passed 76-6 this week, now heads to the Senate, where it will be sponsored by Sen. John Michael Montgomery.