OKLAHOMA CITY – Residents of Oklahoma and Canadian counties who face eviction and other legal challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for free legal services through the Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/Canadian Counties Inc.
The program is a partnership between CAA of OKC and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. Funding comes from Community Services Block Grant funds designated for COVID-19 recovery by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
CAA of OKC already has a program in place to help residents affected by COVID-19 with rent and utility assistance. With the expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions, legal experts expect a sharp increase in eviction cases related to the pandemic. CAA of OKC knew more residents would need legal assistance.
“Legal issues related to eviction are challenging, and hiring a lawyer for representation or counsel to navigate the process and understand their rights creates additional challenges in an already stressful situation for people who are at risk of losing their housing,” said Jessie Thompson, executive director of CAA of OKC. “Through this program, that legal representation is free.”
Michael Figgins, executive director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, warned of the coming eviction crisis.
“Without swift and significant intervention, our community will see a devastating – yet entirely preventable – eviction and homelessness crisis. The stakes could not be higher during this public health crisis,” Figgins said. “Ensuring that everyone is stably housed during and after the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a moral imperative – it is a public health necessity.”
Thompson said that other pandemic-related legal problems may also be eligible for assistance, including wrongful termination and domestic violence situations.
The application is now available online at www.caaofokc.org or by calling 405-232-0199.
Applicants will need to provide some documentation, including income status, to qualify for the program. For a family of four, Thompson said, income must not exceed $52,400 per year to be eligible.
After CAA of OKC screens applicants, they are connected with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma for free representation.