OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A year and a half into the pandemic, many Oklahoma families are still struggling to get back on their feet.
“We have about $240 million to distribute to Oklahomans,” said Shannon Carr, Community Cares Partners Director of Communications.
As KFOR has been reporting for months now, Community Cares Partners is working to help you pay your bills
“This is completely free assistance. So, if someone is struggling with their rent, their utilities, and maybe they just need, a couple of months they were in quarantine and not getting paid, and falling behind, we definitely encourage you to go to our website and apply,” Carr said.
The program launched in 2020 as a result of the CARES Act. Last year, they were distributing CARES money. And in December of 2020, Congress passed a bill with the Emergency Assistance Program. Now the group is distributing those funds.
“So far to date, we have helped just over 18,000 households and distributed almost $80 million,” Carr said.
Carr says the assistance is free, meaning you don’t have to pay it back.
But there are a few qualifications you need to meet.
You must be financially impacted, directly or indirectly, by COVID-19, including being on unemployment, at risk of housing instability or homelessness and at or below 80% area median income
“It’s a great help to our neighbors and our community within Oklahoma. It doesn’t only help the tenants that are applying but also the landlords,” Carr said. “If their tenants aren’t able to pay their rent for months on end, that kind of puts them behind.”
Carr says because relatively everyone has been impacted by COVID-19, most families who apply are approved.
“We pretty much approve everyone that applies. Our denial rate is very low. It’s less than 5%,” Carr said. “Everything is confidential. We don’t share your information unless it’s with the landlord or the utility company we’re working with.”
Community Cares Partners along with St. Vincent de Paul is setting up an event on Saturday, Oct. 23 to help you apply for assistance.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., participants can head to the Norman Central Library to apply. You will need to bring an ID and a copy of your utility bill if you have one.
If you can’t make that event, you can visit their website at okccp.org.