Consumer Watch: Oklahoma City top 20 for evictions, free help
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Oklahoma has nearly double the eviction rate compared to the rest of the country, and Oklahoma City is on the list of top 20 places where most people are evicted. Here is a breakdown of the stats according to Eviction Lab: in Oklahoma City there are nearly 18 evictions a day, and across the state the stats show 60 evictions a day.
Home is meant to be a place you feel safe. If you face eviction, it can feel like you are losing everything and many people actually are.
“You know, if you have to live in your car or live on the street or if you don't have a home, it just increases the chances for people to be stuck in that poverty cycle, “says Richard Klinge.
Klinge is the director of the pro-bobo Housing Eviction Assistance Program at Oklahoma City University School of Law. The program is funded through a grant, and started taking clients less than two months ago.
“This grant from the Bar Foundation, it gives the opportunity for us to level the playing field because as an experienced lawyer, I could go in and raise issues, that a tenant wouldn't even know is an issue, “says Klinge.
Evictions are a nationwide problem. The Eviction Lab at Princeton University says many people are evicted because they cannot pay, but that's not the only reason. You can be evicted for breaking your lease in some other ways, like having someone who is not on the lease living with you, for criminal activity, property damage, and even if you have done nothing wrong, but the landlord wants to end the lease.
No matter the reason, the end result is a person losing their home. In Oklahoma, that has left us with an eviction rate nearly double the national average.
Klinge says the Housing Eviction Assistance Program cannot do much to help if you are being evicted if you don't have money for your rent, but it can help fight for your rights if you are evicted for other reasons, like in the case of a woman who is being evicted for not paying rent after her landlord would not fix her bathroom.
“The sewage system wasn't working for several months, and she put her foot down and said, ‘I am not going to pay my rent-- my toilet is not working,’ and under the law the landlord has a duty to provide those essential services, “says Klinge.
The eviction process can be very fast, so it is important to get help as soon as possible. If Klinge and the students in the program take the case, the help will be free.
The assistance program is only seeing clients out of Oklahoma County right now, but there are no income requirements. Most of their clients are low income, but they have helped people going through evictions who make more money.