by Staff Writer Torrel Miles
The global pandemic has decimated the mirage of normalcy we have become accustomed to. Businesses have floundered and careers have been cut short. Social interaction has become taboo. Sneezing and coughing have become a public offense punishable by scowls and open hostility. Coupled with assaults on human rights, impending economic collapse and vicious political polarity, many people are feeling the weight of this year and wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The working class is especially feeling the pinch as they watch their working hours, and consequently their paychecks, dwindle into nothing due to cutbacks to meet the abnormal demands the pandemic has ordered. To help workers who rent housing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have ordered a national moratorium on evictions. The moratorium only delays the eviction, however, and many experts fear that January will see an unprecedented eviction crisis.
Tulsa Housing Authority has attempted to answer this dilemma with a deadline extension to their Emergency Rental Assistance program. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was generously funded to the tune of $15 million by Tulsa County as part of the CARES Funds Act created to provide emergency rental assistance payments to the citizens of Tulsa County affected by the pandemic. The deadline extension gives residents until September 30th to apply. Tulsa residents that need assistance with paying their rent after a job loss or wage reduction due to the pandemic are eligible for up to $3,000 while funds last. Tulsa residents who are over 18 years old, haven’t been able to pay their rent since April 1st, have their name on the lease and saw their wages reduced or lost their job due to the pandemic are eligible.
Tulsa residents who are receiving federal rent subsidies, such as Section 8 and the Housing Choice Voucher program, are not eligible as well as those who are under 18 years old or paying mortgages. Upon eligibility and approval, the assistance funds are funneled to the owner of the property. A tenant desiring to apply should notify the property owner as the property owner is responsible for sending the required documentation. A copy of the lease, a copy of a utility bill and, if applicable, a copy of the unemployment letter is needed for the application. The utility bill must be in the lease holder’s name. Acceptance is not guaranteed as there are limited funds.
As a bonus, Restore Hope Ministries has partnered with the State of Oklahoma for the eviction mitigation program for all of Tulsa County, providing similar relief as the Emergency Rental Assistance program. The requirements for eligibility consist of an actual eviction having been filed after March 27th, 2020. While eligible for $600 more than the Emergency Rental Assistance program, the yearly income of the household must be below 80% of the average median income for Tulsa County. As of 2018 the average median income for Tulsa County sits at $53,902. These stipulations are aimed at tenants in the more severe stages of eviction. Nonetheless, the program wants to ensure that as many individuals who are suffering from the pandemic are able to receive some kind of assistance. For further information, call the call center at 918-236-0949 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or visit the Tulsa Housing Authority’s program website at https://tulsahousing.nanmckay.com/.
Photo credit: Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman