Published 06/09/2020 | Reading Time 4 min 53 sec
Restore Hope Ministries is honored to partner with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund, administered by The Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way, to help Tulsa area tenants and landlords in this extraordinary time. Thanks to the incredible generosity of these local funders, Restore Hope will be able to pay the past due rent for more than 500 families with pending cases filed on the Tulsa County Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) Docket, commonly referred to as the eviction docket, before May 31, 2020. For those landlords and tenants who agree to the terms of this arrangement, Restore Hope Ministries will be able to bring tenants current on their residential rent payments through June 30, 2020.
“The current public health and economic crisis has been devastating for so many families, but we are eager to play a role in assisting those who have fallen behind,” said Stacy Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “While this effort is a temporary solution to the immediate crisis, we hope that it serves as a catalyst to address the shocking fact that Tulsa County has the 11th highest eviction rate in the country. We look forward to seeing meaningful changes to the county’s eviction docket as we begin a process of building better landlord-tenant relations through mediation and other cooperative efforts.”
“Tenants in Tulsa County have been experiencing an eviction crisis for years,” notes Rev. Jeff Jaynes, Restore Hope Ministries’ Executive Director, “and COVID-19 has added to that crisis. Tenants are facing record unemployment, delays in benefits, and fears of becoming homeless in the midst of a global pandemic. And landlords that rely on those rent funds to pay their own bills are also hurting. This amazing grant will allow us to help both parties as well as provide some needed change to work toward a solution of the larger eviction crisis.”
Restore Hope’s Homeless Prevention Initiative will work with landlords, tenants, and Tulsa County’s Early Settlement Mediation Program to facilitate this program. Tenants will agree to continue to abide by their lease agreements while landlords will agree to not file eviction cases for the next three months. Both parties are expected to be good faith participants in mediation should any concerns arise.
“Our court system–especially our eviction docket–has been overwhelmed for far too long,” notes Becky Gligo, Housing Policy Director for the City of Tulsa. “The Early Settlement Mediation Program, sponsored by Tulsa County and the Oklahoma Supreme Court, offers an opportunity for just resolution of disputes without further burdening our court system. This program has a 75% success rate overall. If these funds can offer an incentive to find new ways to work out landlord/tenant concerns, both parties AND our community will ultimately benefit.”
“There are some amazing landlords in our community and some wonderful tenants,” notes Rev. Jaynes. “We know that it is hard work to be a good landlord and hard work to be a good tenant. These funds will provide welcome relief to those who have worked so hard on that landlord/tenant relationship. We hope this effort will also encourage others to join in that work for the betterment of our whole community.”
This grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation demonstrates the foundation’s unwavering commitment to the people of Tulsa. Their partnership with the rapid response our community has provided through the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund administered by the Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way will make a profound impact on our community. With this funding commitment, families will keep their homes, landlords will receive their payments, and organizations like Restore Hope and partners agencies of the COVID-19 RELIEF Fund can coordinate plans for long-term recovery and long-needed systemic changes.