Eviction Ban: One more month may not be enough for struggling renters

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Millions of struggling renters will likely be protected from evictions, at least for another month.

The stimulus bill that was signed into law by President Donald Trump late Sunday night extends the national ban on evictions until Jan. 31.

The bill also provides $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.

But one local renter and a social service agency says one more month may not be enough.

Community Action Agency in Oklahoma City is doing all they can to assist renters struggling due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, one Oklahoma renter who has been affected by the pandemic says the outcome for at-risk renters may not be so bright once the eviction ban is lifted.

“It doesn’t look good. It’s sad people are going to be on the streets, we’re going to have homeless shelters in overflow. It’s going to be even worse. We already have people on the streets that are begging and in need. So, it just doesn’t look good,” Monica Winters said.

Photo goes with story
Monica Winters and her four sons.

That was almost the case for Monica Winters, a single mother of four boys. Like many Americans, after losing her job in March due to COVID-19, she was almost unable to make ends meet. That is, until she made a phone call that would ultimately save her from losing her home.

“As soon as I put in my application, they got back to me in a timely manner, they were able to get me in and get me interviewed…get my back-rent paid up…helped me with utilities,” Winters said.

And with the effects of the pandemic on many Oklahoma renters, Monica’s application was one of the thousands the agency received.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook, pretty much since March 1,” Executive Director of Community Action Agency Jessie Thompson said.

The Community Action Agency has been helping thousands of Oklahomans with rental assistance, but Thompson admits there are still many struggling.

“I mean, easily, we’ve had over 10,000 applications since June 1 for our program, and we’ve only been able to assist a little over 2,000 at this point,” Thompson said.

The situation is so dire that Thompson estimates nearly 100,000 Oklahomans could be facing homelessness at the end of January, when a federal ban on evictions is set to expire.

While the community action agency may not be able to help everyone with rental assistance, they do offer other options.

“We do have free legal assistance here and sometimes a letter from a lawyer will help. We also could talk to their landlord and say we’re willing to pay, are you willing to take a check from us,” Thompson said.

Winters says the first step is reaching out.

“Just dont be embarassed to ask for help. A lot of people are embarrassed because we haven’t been in these type of situations. Don’t be shy, these people are here to help us. The funds are here and available to us for this reason, for COVID. So get out, get your resources, take care of your family until we can get through this together,” Winters said.

For rental assistance, you could go to www.caofokc.org or call 2-1-1 for more information.

Story by KFOR reporter Brittany Spears

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