www.publicradiotulsa.org

By Matt Trotter

 

Another round of emergency rental assistance funding is on its way to Tulsa.

The city is receiving a $3.8 million initial disbursement from a total award of $9.5 million in the American Rescue Plan. The new funding is on top of $12 million in a previous coronavirus relief package to help pay late rent and utilities.

City COVID Relief Funds Manager Alisa Dougless said the guidance for the new funds is less restrictive.

“The original was rent and utility and housing stability, but it had to have a direct or indirect relationship to COVID. This — actually, Treasury has been exceptional in responding to public inquiry and has made these where now this money is just during the time of COVID,” Dougless said.

While the city chose nonprofit Restore Hope Ministries to administer its first Emergency Rental Assistance Program funding award, Dougless said there is no obligation to continue that with the new money from the American Rescue Plan. Some councilors suggested with Restore Hope already doing so much work, it may be beneficial to spread the money around.

City Councilor Lori Decter Wright said the money is coming with the federal eviction moratorium set to expire in 10 days.

“The fact that the federal treasury is sending us $21 million to avoid homelessness and evictions tells you what the crisis coming after July 31 is. And I’m not trying to be dramatic, although I have a propensity to be so. I really want you all to just think about your most vulnerable citizens. We all know where those pockets are in our community,” Decter Wright said.

Decter Wright has recently led efforts to get remaining residents of Vista Shadow Mountain out of their apartments. The fire department deemed the complex unsafe, and all residents had to be out by Wednesday. Buildings had structural problems, units had leaks and mold, and some residents didn’t have walls, floors or ceilings.

Tulsa County landlords have filed almost 4,600 evictions so far this year, and more than 10,500 since March 2020, according to Open Justice Oklahoma’s court tracker.