The city of Tulsa’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund soon will be operating to produce and preserve affordable housing projects citywide.
Applications will be accepted in January and will be reviewed in January and February by the Affordable Housing Trust Committee.
Tammy Phelps had high hopes and big plans for 2020. She had planned to buy her own home and move out of the rental where she and her five children had been living since her divorce five years ago. She and her boyfriend were planning a wedding.
The area has a concentration of “eviction mills,” usually out-of-state interests filing a disproportionate share of cases, and seems partly responsible for giving the city the 11th-highest eviction rate in the country.
As it becomes increasingly clear that it will take much longer than we hoped for business to return to normal, landlords and tenants need to consider what help their lease may provide.
Avenues are available to tenants who don't want to lose their rental homes, but advocates worry that information about those options may not be getting to the people who need it.
All that's needed is a sworn oath they can’t pay due to the pandemic to get an eviction case dismissed or postponed until 2021. “Tenants have told me that they simply didn't believe me,” a Legal Aid attorney said.
The Tulsa Housing Authority and Restore Hope Ministries began offering rental assistance to tenants and landlords in Tulsa County on Aug. 24, thanks to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Tulsa County Commission. But something is amiss.
Advocates on both sides of the issue urge legislators to take action, but not necessarily the same changes.
More than 660 people applied for emergency rent assistance, asking for more than $900,000 from two new Tulsa programs that are using federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to help prevent evictions.
Tulsa residents will need more than $7 million in rental assistance by the end of September to avoid an unprecedented eviction crisis, according to the survey of local landlords.
"Well-meaning officials should recognize that making it easier for tenants to escape paying rent makes it impossible for landlords to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance and loan costs," said Tulsa resident Gary Cheatham.
“We noticed the smell was really bad and that’s when we started seeing the snakes,” Charlotte Moore said.
"…the city should also give landlords a holiday from paying taxes on these properties," said Ed Seiders of Tulsa.
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"Our entire community has a stake in making sure we have a good outcome for those facing eviction," the author writes. "Families without homes face increased health risks, they find it harder to maintain employment, and their children encounter education delays that impact their development for years to come. We share our community with these families, and our ability to succeed depends on their ability to succeed."
In law school, students learn about justice, about making persuasive legal arguments and about the strict code of ethics bounding lawyer actions. Few tenants experience any of these lessons in eviction court.
The council passed a resolution calling for Gov. Kevin Stitt to temporarily block residential evictions unless a landlord is responding to a tenant’s criminal behavior or dangerous activities.
Restore Hope Ministries will use an open-ended grant to pay rents for tenants who received eviction notices while the courts were closed for COVID-19. It would benefit more than 500 Tulsa families, officials announced Tuesday.
Even before the pandemic recession, Tulsa had the 11th highest eviction rate in the nation. The COVID-19 shutdown threatens to make it much worse once state courts are in full operations. Nearly half of all adults in Oklahoma have lost all or part of their incomes since March, and 1 out of 3 Oklahomans are now struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, according to data from Open Justice Oklahoma.
Eviction dockets will resume for the first time since March. But instead of using the Tulsa County Courthouse, the cases will move to the new Family Juvenile Justice Center, 500 W. Archer St.
Tenants short on rent have now found themselves with some breathing room, while some landlords wonder if they will get any relief.