State Representative Monroe Nichols of Tulsa will lead Interim Studies on Neighborhood Blight and a “deep dive” in research on economic fairness
Published: July 23rd, 2021
Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City, July 23, 2021 — State Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, has garnered the approval of Speaker of the House Charles McCall for an interim study intended, in the words of a House Staff press release, “to review neighborhood blight throughout Oklahoma and how it affects homeowners and communities.”
The staff release issued at the time of Nichols’ request to the Speaker read: “Neighborhood blight refers to neighborhoods with abandoned houses or lots often in disrepair. When neighborhoods experience blight, property value decreases for everyone, including small businesses in the area.”
Rep. Nichols commented, “Significant wealth, sometimes wealth accumulated from a lifetime maybe even generations of work, can be wiped away due to the action or inaction of others. Since financial considerations are often the cause of abandoned property, this is a problem that low- and middle-income Oklahomans feel the most.”
Nichols believes that “blight” conditions impact both rural and urban areas of the state. He said, “When you visit many neighborhoods in rural Oklahoma, you see a very similar site as some areas in Oklahoma’s bigger cities,” Nichols said. “The state needs to be proactive in revitalizing communities that are already financially struggling.”
He hopes the study might gather information and resources to overcome abandoned property issues, to assist lawmakers and local officials. He reflected, “We are all in this together. What is good for rural Oklahoma is good for urban Oklahoma and vice versa. One of the jobs of a state lawmaker is to help local officials find solutions to the problems facing their community, which is what I hope to do with this study.”
In his submission to the Speaker’s office, the Tulsan said the study “will take a look at enabling legislation in Alabama that led to the revitalization of neighborhoods in Mobile.”
The study will work through the House County and Municipal Committee.
Rep. Monroe also gained approval for a look at “economic fairness” through the Government Modernization Committee. In his June 22 submission, Monroe affirmed, “This study would explore ways the state of Oklahoma could improve economic fairness for low and lower middle income residents. Study will feature Fellows who are studying the issue over the summer and a deep dive analysis into potential approaches.”
On Friday, Speaker McCall announced his approval of 113 interim studies – the overwhelming majority of the proposals sumbitted to him in the weeks after the regular legislative session ended.
The anticipated wave of studies will have to take place between August 2 and November 5.