OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Representative Mickey Dollens of Oklahoma City gathered together several leaders in the home buying and home building industry to help figure out how to make housing more affordable and accessible in the Sooner State.

“My intention was to bring as many stakeholders to the table that I could within 3 hours,” said Dollens.

A plethora of experts showed up to give their analysis of the current state of housing in Oklahoma.

Some statistics that stood out:

  • Oklahoma is 3rd in the country when it comes to homes owned by corporations
  • 18% of new homes in 2021 were bought by institutional investors
  • Oklahoma is one of six states without anti-retaliation laws

Alex McNeil, one of the speakers from Stop Corporate Landlords, said that he found a connection between the high number of out-of-state investors and the lack of protections for renters in the state.

One of the solutions he proposed was allowing renters access to public defenders.

Rausch Coleman, a well known home builder, was represented at the hearing Monday.

Josh Carson, General Counsel and Vice President of Rausch Coleman, said local regulation restricts the amount of homes the company can build each year.

“A lot of the setbacks that we’ve experienced really just come at a local level, local regulatory level,” said Carson.

In his presentation, he mentioned that 300 homes were not built this year and 400 were not going to be built in 2023 because of such regulations.

The ripple effect shows in the inventory of available and affordable homes.

“We have a state wide housing shortage,” said Kerby Crowe, with Oklahoma Coalition of Affordable Housing.

Crowe, along with most of the speakers, advocated for freeing up the market to decide for itself what was best for each house. Harping on the conversation about local restrictions, he said buyers should have more say over city regulators.

“People won’t buy what they don’t like and it’s one thing that we’re really good at,” said Crowe.

From a financing perspective, the Oklahoma Housing Finance Association spoke about their products for first time home buyers, but they added what they would like to see changed moving forward.

“I think the lot-width size might be one of those that give people an opportunity to bring more houses to their community,” said Valenthia Doolin, Home Ownership Director of Oklahoma Housing Finance Association.

Doolin added to the chorus of people explaining why reducing regulations would add more inventory to the market.

But she brought up another issue that was not heard from the other speakers: prioritizing homeownership.

“I think it’s just a lack of focus,” said Doolin. “I think my parents, for example, that was an automatic focus for them. And then when they were teaching me and then now us teaching you [speaking to me]…I don’t think there’s been very much focus on helping people go from renting to homeownership.”

Walking away from the hearing today, there was no one solution to the housing problem facing Oklahomans. It was viewed by everyone as a multi-pronged problem that will need to be addressed from every angle.

Dollens will now gather the information and put together proposals for legislation with his colleagues in the Business and Commerce Committee.