Even with a federal moratorium on some eviction cases, a Tulsa program began focusing Wednesday on making future rent payments as well as helping people catch up on overdue rent.
Federal officials, reimposing an evictions moratorium through at least the end of the year, hope to prevent a wave of homelessness during the COVID-19 epidemic. But the moratorium doesn’t make anyone exempt from paying rent, which will continue to accumulate as residents miss payments.
“The moratorium is a good first step, but we can’t stop there,” said the Rev. Jeff Jaynes, executive director of Restore Hope Ministries, which is administering an anti-eviction program along with the Tulsa Housing Authority.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been helping qualified Tulsa residents pay overdue rent since late August, using $20 million in federal CARES Act funding. Starting Wednesday, however, Restore Hope’s side of the program began emphasizing its ability to continue making future rent payments through Jan. 1, when the current federal moratorium will expire.
To qualify, residents must show they have suffered a loss of income that can be blamed on the coronavirus.
“This will not only prevent tenants from becoming homeless but will also keep them from facing a mountain of debt on January 1,” Jaynes said. “It will also help landlords in this difficult time.”
Replacing a previous federal moratorium that expired in August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control imposed the current moratorium earlier this month. The rules include asking renters to sign a declaration saying they don’t make more than $99,000 a year, or twice that if filing a joint tax return, and that they would become homeless if evicted or have to live with more people in close proximity.
Evictions can continue if they are for reasons other than nonpayment of rent.
Since the program began in late August, more than 4,400 Tulsa households have applied for more than $6.7 million in rent assistance, officials said Wednesday.
Video: Let’s Talk town hall focuses on the eviction crisis.