People looking to live in rural parts of Oklahoma may have an easier time finding space thanks to a database listing available lots. 

The new database is a collaborative effort between the Oklahoma Municipal League (OML) and the Oklahoma Home Builders Association (OkHBA).

“OML will work with the various communities that have available marketable lots, and develop a pool from which potential buyers and builders can choose. OML will maintain a database of available properties and assist local governments with inquiries concerning abandoned and dilapidated properties,” according to a release announcing the database.

“Affordable housing is in short supply around the nation while increasing supply is a HUD focus,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told the Daily Yonder.  “HUD supports its partners and the industry in the development of affordable housing and also affordable homeownership opportunities for more Americans.”

In early November, there were 60 listings in the database.

Shonterria Charleston, director of training and technical assistance at the Housing Assistance Council, said that anytime there is a system or database that makes information available, it’s a good thing. 

“All information is good information, if folks can actually access it, and be able to manipulate it and use it in a way that’s advantageous for them,” she told the Daily Yonder.

She said the database includes a lot of information, such as the available utilities and cost of the land. 

However, she said, developers are often looking for tracts of land to expand on economies of scale. 

She believes it can be helpful for people who may not be as acquainted with rural America, because they can learn about costs and what all is included. 

In rural America, “lots of times people don’t even know who owns land,” she said. “And so if this information can be made available, that might be something that could really change how families are able to know whether or not this land actually belongs to them, who holds the deed to it, those sorts of things. And if there is any kind of contention over the property, having this information would be really helpful.”

One caveat she does see is that in some communities lacking broadband Internet access may not be able to access the information. 

“It’s not just about creating the database and having the information in there – it’s actually making sure that groups and communities are aware that the information is there, and that they know how to actually utilize the tool,” she said. “And if there’s a challenge with the tool that there is like a point of contact or something that people can call, say, ‘Hey, this is not pulling up for me,’ because if you have any folks who aren’t able to use it, it’s almost like it’s not there.”

Still, Charleston is optimistic about the database and its use. 

“This really would be a step at, one step at sort of closing that divide. I think all data intentioned in a good way is a positive thing,” she added. 

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