ACLU of Oklahoma asking state leaders to continue to prevent evictions, utility shut-offs

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As families across the state work to make ends meet, a local organization is urging state officials to make sure that Oklahomans are not evicted during this crisis.

The ACLU of Oklahoma sent letters to local elected officials to urge them to expand the statewide moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in widespread and devastating economic consequences across the Nation,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director. “But Oklahomans are particularly vulnerable, facing significant levels of unemployment, the imminent threat of losing their homes or access to utility services is no longer paycheck to paycheck, it is day to day. And these consequences risk further spread of COVID-19 throughout Oklahoma and undermine efforts to protect public health and well-being. Moreover, the nearly guaranteed wave of evictions and utility shut-offs would inflict far-reaching and significant economic and social harm on thousands of Oklahoma’s residents — particularly on women, people of color, low-income residents, and other vulnerable communities.”

The ACLU of Oklahoma’s letter calls on Governor Stitt to issue a comprehensive moratorium that will:

  • Halt every stage of the eviction process; 
  • Continue to prevent mass evictions during and after the pandemic; 
  • Apply to all types of tenants and lease violations; 
  • Prohibit the collection of late fees and retaliation against tenants who assert their rights under the moratorium;
  • Prohibit utility shut-offs and require restoration of previously disconnected services. 

“As millions of people lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters are faced with the added threat of being put out of their homes or cut off from access to utilities during a global crisis,” said Sandra Park, senior attorney at the ACLU. “Evictions and utility shut-offs will disproportionately harm communities of color, and particularly, women of color. All residents — regardless of their circumstances or background —  should have access to safe and stable housing throughout the course of this ongoing public health crisis.” 

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