December 27, 2022

Highlighting Our Community Partners: Habitat for Humanity

Each month we will highlight community members and the projects they lead.  Vicki Jordan and Cameron Walker with Green Country Habitat for Humanity are making an impact towards affordable housing in Tulsa. Read more below about the vital work they are doing in our community.

Q: PartnerTulsa and Habitat for Humanity, along with Boomtown, have recently partnered on two projects that will bring new housing to Tulsans – the Black Wall Street Square Project and a program to support homebuyer assistance for new homeowners. What are you most excited about with both of these projects?

The Black Wall Street Square development will be a transformative, mixed-income townhome community located in a prime location immediately north of downtown along Martin Luther King Boulevard. With easy access to numerous amenities, highways and public transportation options, we believe Black Wall Street Square has the potential to be a catalyst for additional residential and commercial development in North Tulsa.

While we tragically lost our beloved project co-developer in October 2022, Terry McGee was instrumental in creating a coalition of support for this project. He was adamant that the community be involved in helping us in fine tuning the design and offer input that would blend this new development into the existing neighborhood. Additionally, Terry, along with District I Tulsa City Councilor, Vanessa Hall-Harper, were firm in their desire that the project not only provide much needed housing, but also create economic opportunities for Black-owned contractors and vendors. We are proud to carry on Terry’s vision and look forward to seeing the North Tulsa community benefit in numerous ways from its development. 

With the cost of land, labor and materials continually rising, one of the few tools we have at our disposal to fight those forces is downpayment assistance. The assistance is provided in the form of a grant and utilized to buy down the mortgage, thereby providing a lower monthly payment for the family. As long as the family uses the home as their primary residence for five years, the assistance is forgiven and the homeowner realizes an injection of equity into their home. For many low-to-moderate income families, equity in a home is a singular source for building household wealth, and critical to addressing the wealth gap between many white and black households. 

Q: Housing affordability is a topic of both growing local and national significance, and Mayor Bynum recently announced a $500 million challenge to spur new housing development in Tulsa over the next two years. How do you see Habitat and Boomtown innovating to help meet – and hopefully exceed! – this goal?

Habitat embarked on its North Tulsa Initiative in the first quarter of 2021, committing to add 250 affordable housing units in North Tulsa over the next five years. To date, we have either closed or are in progress on 89 of the 250 homes. Beyond the North Tulsa initiative, Boomtown and Habitat are developing the Buena Vida subdivision in East Tulsa, which will consist of 19 new construction, owner-occupied homes.

Q: What types of housing projects have you seen nationally or globally that you believe Tulsa could learn from?

Tulsa is unfortunately not alone when seeking solutions to address our dire shortage of housing. Over the last decade, a national focus on “missing middle” housing has intensified in response to ever increasing housing costs. This renewed focus on density, walkability and housing typology has forced developers and municipalities to think beyond the traditional single-family detached home, and look to the past for answers. In the not too distant past, many families across the United States lived and worked in the same building or shared homes in a quadplex, three flat or row home. Additionally, the trend to convert unused commercial space into housing is beginning to take off all across the country and could be another tool in City’s arsenal to address our housing shortage.