Policy issues: Housing statistics show disparities between states
Homeownership has always been the cornerstone of the American dream. For many of our friends and neighbors, however, this part of the dream is increasingly beyond reach. Growing numbers of Oklahoma are finding that the decision between renting and buying a home has already been made for them. The odds are against potential homebuyers today due to soaring house prices, stagnant wages for low-income workers, rising childcare costs for families, household debt. student loans for many young Oklahomans, and more.
Looking around the state, about 2 in 3 Oklahoma residents own their homes. Homeownership rates are slightly lower in metropolitan areas and communities near state military bases; the percentage of owners is generally higher in rural areas. (Payne County – home to Oklahoma State University – has the highest renter rate in the state at 48%. Logan County has the highest home ownership rate. state raised to 83%.)
Overall homeownership in the state has declined by around two percentage points over the past three decades and is slightly above the national average. By unwrapping these numbers a little more, you can see that homeownership trends point to growing racial disparity. Over the past 30 years, the homeownership rate among Whites in Oklahoma has risen to 71%, while Latinx homeownership in the state has increased by just over seven percentage points to reach about 54%.
The declines in the homeownership rate in Oklahoma are being borne by our black neighbors whose homeownership rates have declined by nearly eight percentage points to just under 40%. These numbers are despite a decreasing number of white households in Oklahoma and a growing number of black households.
The overall trend in housing affordability will be one that is difficult to reverse. There are, however, ways to help eliminate some of the inconveniences for low-income Oklahoma residents who are forced to rent due to financial circumstances. Options could include expanding the low-income property tax credit to all homeowners and tenants earning less than $ 12,000 per year and creating a tenant tax credit equal to the value. of the exemption on homestead. Both are low-cost proposals that would put money back in the pockets of working people in Oklahoma while also helping to alleviate some of the racial disparities in the state.
Ahniwake Rose is Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.