STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) — In the neighborhood of Stillwater Springs, several families who have affordable housing assistance received a letter that rent will be raised by October. Rent increase is one of many issues the state was told it’s lacking in the recent Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency Report (LOFT).
“It’s over $100 that could be used to feed our kids,” said Misty Cochran, who found the note on her door recently.
Many who aren’t living through Section 8 affordable housing ended up not getting a note with a warning of their rent increase.
“There are so many people in this neighborhood who fear receiving the note, that would make them homeless with nowhere to go,” said Misty.
The Cochran’s have two kids and one who is special needs. Misty said that they aren’t the lowest of income but just barely enough to qualify for housing assistance.
“And it’s getting way too hard for us,” said Misty. “We don’t get food stamps assistance but we do get housing assistance and it helps. But that small rent increase could take from our food and from our bills.”
She said that they pay around $800 in rent a month and the increase would bring it closer to $1,100 a month.
“Affordable should be under $1,000,” said Misty.
LOFT found in their report examining the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority that Oklahoma falls short in its investment in affordable housing. Construction for affordable housing fell dramatically in 2022. The waitlist for those wanting to be a part of Section 8 affordable homes is in the thousands.
Examiners determined that rising rent costs and lack of development are weakening the impact of the public trust, which develops low-income housing programs and incentivizes builders to commit to building affordable homes.
Governor Stitt made it clear in April that he will not be focusing on building affordable housing.
“As long as I’m governor of Oklahoma we’re not going to build housing,” Stitt said. “We’re going to instead try to get them the help, the job that they need.”
Misty told KFOR that they fear they will become homeless after the rent rate rises where they live. Throughout Stillwater Springs, many renters wouldn’t go on camera but told KFOR that they fear a rent increase as well.
The report also showed that there is a major gap for those whose incomes exceed the low limit but fall below Oklahoma rent prices. In Edmond, a survey was done recently that found that 64% of Edmond residents can’t afford a new average home.
It showed that there is a lack of action when it comes to low and middle-income families and affordable housing throughout the city.
“There’s just so much here that is not right and is not accurate. A young person who rents should still be able to buy or own a car. If we continue to have 75% of the people who work in this city not be able to live here, we’re not going to have people who work here either,” said Christin Mugg, Councilmember Ward 3, during an August 15th council meeting.
“It shouldn’t raise for those that are needing assistance to begin with,” said Misty. “Assistance is meant for those that can’t make all of the bills, those who still struggle even with a little bit of assistance.”
KFOR reached out to Laguna Management who residents said manages Stillwater Springs. As of Thursday, they have not reached back out.