Experts Fear Many Oklahomans Could Face Eviction After Moratorium Expires


Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 8:58 am
By: Shannon Rousseau


TULSA -

Many Oklahomans could be evicted after losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Kevin Stitt recently approved a $10 million grant that would go to non-profits to help those who may be facing eviction.

However, some worry it won't be enough.

The Journal Record reports that Tulsa had the 11th highest eviction rate among big cities across the U.S., and that's before the pandemic.

The Director of Open Justice Oklahoma, Ryan Gentzler, says that's partially because laws tend to favor landlords over tenants and allow for evictions to be finalized a lot quicker in Oklahoma than other states.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows as many as one in five Oklahoma families may be extremely challenged in the coming months to make housing payments.

Gentzler says the $10 million grant is a good start, but it won't be nearly enough to avoid a statewide eviction crisis.

Since the start of the pandemic, Open Justice Oklahoma says at least 3,600 evictions have been filed in Oklahoma and more than 800 finalized.

Provisions for a moratorium on eviction were included in the federal CARES Act--which passed in March--but the moratorium is set to expire this summer.

Gentzler fears, if there's no extension, a large number of evictions could overwhelm the state going into next year.