Judges shoulder burden of avoiding mass evictions

As landlords and tenants begin showing up when the small claims dockets are called in courtrooms across Oklahoma, we pray the judges presiding over a backlog of 2,300 eviction cases will be judicious in their decisions.

With a statewide unemployment rate of 13.7% in April and initial claims of newly jobless Oklahomans continuing to mount by the tens of thousands each week, removing families from their homes en masse would be a mistake. Crowding people into homes with members of their extended family or shelters accelerates the risks of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases as a sputtering economy tries to get traction.

The $2.2 trillion economic stabilization package approved by Congress protects some tenants against evictions — the CARES Act prohibits the filing of new cases against tenants who live in federally financed or subsidized housing until July 24. States and local governments have provided some protection, but that varies by location, leaving renters at the courts’ mercy.

[Muskogee Phoenix]

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