Advocates worried about flood of evictions because of pandemic

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As many people can’t make rent because of the pandemic, advocates are worried about a flood of evictions taking place.

Scott Curtis, who lives at the Greens and Links Apartments in Norman, received an eviction notice after not being able to pay rent for the past two months.

“If you’re in a situation where you can give a little bit and talk to your tenants, show some kindness. Please do that,” he said.

He says he’s a self-employed contractor and, because of the pandemic, he hasn’t been able to bring in any money.

Management at his apartment complex says they’re just following the law, and the corporate owner, Lindsey Management, says residents are required to make rent.

“You kicking people out, ruining their credit, is actually going to, in the long run, destroy your own business in the future,” Curtis said.

A tracker from Open Justice Oklahoma shows over 1,600 evictions filed as of May 8, compared to just over 240 on March 15.

Mass evictions are something the ACLU is concerned about.

“When you add in all of the economic issues we’re seeing right now due to COVID-19 and just with the oil and gas industry, we could see a huge influx in evictions, which also means a lot of folks without safe ways to protect themselves and their families during an ongoing pandemic,” Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the ACLU of Oklahoma, said.

The ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office asking him to issue a moratorium on evictions. They’re concerned once the courts open back up, that’s when the challenges are going to begin.

“We’re not only looking a number, we’re also looking at the fact that those are disproportionately people of color, it’s disproportionally women and single parent households,” McAfee said.

“They do have the right to do this legally, but do they really think they have the moral authority to do this?” Curtis said.

KFOR reached out to Stitt’s office to see if he has any plans to address evictions, but haven’t heard back.

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