A federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire this weekend, but Tulsa officials say assistance is still available.
There are millions of dollars yet to be applied for in a rental assistance program that’s part of federal COVID-19 relief. Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa are working together to encourage people to take advantage of it, especially with the expiration July 31st of a federal moratorium on most evictions.
Even though officials fully expect several hundred evictions will be filed next week, they want both tenants and landlords to know there is so much help available, eviction really should not be necessary.
"If people are approaching eviction, this program is for them," County Commissioner Stan Sallee said.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has already distributed more than $7 million of assistance to 1,450 households but there is far more money available. Officials estimate Tulsa is 3,000 units short of what's needed in affordable apartments, with 3,500 people spending so much of their income on rent they forego other needs.
Applications are accepted regardless of income, or family size, and it’s available to anyone in Tulsa County. Other counties have similar programs available.
“We encourage everyone with a financial hardship or struggling to pay their rent to reach out," Kristin Maun, who heads the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity, said.
Scott Gordon is recognized as a “Gold Star Landlord” through a city certification program. He said across his 100 units, before the program started, tenants were collectively $100,000 behind in rent.
The program paid $80,000 of the past due bills, saving him from a financial crisis, and preventing evictions that would push tenants out of a home.
“With the program, it's really been a blessing to the tenants that are struggling,” said Gordon. “It pays three months in advance, and we make a commitment we won't evict them.”
Before the pandemic, there were up to 1,200 eviction cases filed each month, giving Tulsa one of the highest eviction rates in the nation.
“Without the protection of the moratorium, and people willing to take advantage of rental assistance, we're certainly at risk of seeing that wave return,” said Maun.
In Oklahoma, an eviction can move through court in as few as 12 days from the date of the first missed rent payment.
For rent assistance, you can visit these resources below.
For free financial counseling, visit the City of Tulsa's website here.