A temporary federal ban on evictions is set to expire on Saturday, opening the opportunity for a wave of evictions to hit Oklahoma City.
Seth Madison and Taylor Feightner are two of four prevention specialists with the Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City. When someone is worried about being evicted or losing their home, they can call the Homeless Alliance for help keeping a roof over their head.
“Most of our clients come to us with eviction notices from their landlord, or they have already lost their housing due to COVID, and they’re living on the streets,” Madison said.
Feightner and Madison said they have been busy in recent weeks with a variety of clients.
“I’ve talked to people who have been chronically homeless, and this is the first month they got into their house, and they immediately lost their job and are back in the same situation,” Feightner said.
Feightner said that she’s also worked with college students as young as nineteen who are on the verge of becoming homeless.
“This happening and they don’t know what to do,” Feightner said.
The federal moratorium on certain evictions went into effect March 27 with the passage of the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to be lifted on Saturday.
“If we don’t have more programs like this one, we’re going to see a huge wave of homelessness,” Madison said. "That’s going to put tremendous strain on the resources that we already have in place to address homelessness."
In January, Oklahoma City held its annual “snapshot” count of the city’s homeless population.
Although the population is admittedly difficult to accurately quantify, the count found the homeless population to be its largest since 2016.
“Oklahoma City’s numbers were trending in the wrong direction even before the pandemic,” the report said.
In recent months, evictions have been down compared to recent years compared to previous years, according to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.
A spokesperson for the office said they are also expecting an increase in evictions after the moratorium expires.
“I can’t imagine what the (homeless) count will look like in 2021 if nothing else goes into effect,” Feightner said.