A number of initiatives have been created in Tulsa County in an effort to prevent evictions as well as long term homelessness. Non-profits in the community focus their support services on the Housing First concept, which involves both rehousing the homeless and most importantly, stopping an eviction to begin with.
To help with this challenge in the greater Tulsa Oklahoma area, agencies such as the Community Service Council (CSC) as well as groups that are part of the HUD Continuum of Care provide assistance. They will provide information on emergency grants for bills or paying rent arrears. When that is not available, other eviction help may be offered in the form of free legal aid, short term placement into a motel or shelter, or even landlord/tenant mediation.
Those are only some of the resources available. The fact is that most situations are handled differently, as families and individuals often have different challenges to receiving stable housing. When a person has an eviction notice from their landlord, or if they are living in an unsafe environment such as escaping a DV situation, then more information will be provided during the application process.
The long term homeless can seek rehousing assistance from Pathways. This will help address the client's ability to achieve self-sufficiency. This program is generally for people that have either lived in a shelter, motel, park, car, or another place for at minimum of 180 days. This Tulsa County service is not for the recently evicted.
Once all of the case management goals have been met, then the client will be referred to non-profits that are part of the Homeless Services Network for possible financial aid. Many chronically homeless individuals have a tremendous struggle in coming up with the cash needed to move or pay a security deposit. Others just do not know how to go about finding, or signing a lease, on a new apartment. Those needs can also be addressed by Pathways.
Housing First is also focused on preventing evictions. This resources tend to go under the name of A Way Home for Tulsa. There are many agencies, such as the Community Service Council (CSC), that refer struggling tenants to a program for their needs.
Dozens of agencies, including law firms in Tulsa as well as CSC, are part of the Homeless Services Network (HSN) as well as Way Home for Tulsa. They use money from the federal government U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to pay for the eviction assistance programs. The HUD grants may allow an agency to provide an income qualified client the following.
-Arrears on housing costs can be paid, such as for rent, utility or water bills, and more.
-If the tenant needs legal advice to defend the eviction, HUD funds can pay for this.
-Rehousing, including for Pathways or other rehousing needs, may help with the connection costs for phone service, gas, and other utilities.
-Vouchers to pay for motel rooms for a night or two.
The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act encourages the creation of these programs in the region. It not only helps advocate for the homeless and working poor, it also provided for the allotment of grants to pay for housing needs.
There are also independent mediators as well as lawyers that are part of the Tulsa County Homeless Services Network. They will not be able to provide a client any financial aid, but rather they will address the legal reasons to an eviction. In some cases, if the family did not pay their rent, this process will not be effective. But if the crisis is due to a home not being maintained by the landlord, safety issues, or a noise disturbance, then a lawyer may help with those needs.
There may be some minimal fees involved in this. If so, it will be done on a sliding fee, income based approach. But exceptions are often made for senior citizens and families living in poverty that need legal aid. Those clients will normally receive free advice/representation.
Eviction and homeless programs are also for veterans. A resource called BRRX4VETS is administered by the local Tulsa County agency known as the Veteran's Court. They support very low income veterans, their spouses, and children that live in the city and across the county. Or clients may be referred to SSVF, which is another service.
The intake line for homeless prevention services in Tulsa is 1-877-836-2111. Callers need proof of income, hardship, and residency. If qualified, referrals will be given to a program to either rehouse them or that can help them fight the eviction from a property owner.
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