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This Week from OK Policy
Policy Matters: Reversing Native erasure: On Monday, Oklahoma officially acknowledges Native American Day thanks to a 2019 law designating this recognition on the second Monday in October. In typical Oklahoma fashion, it sits alongside rather than replaces Columbus Day, a holiday intended to pay homage to European “discovery” that represents slavery, genocide, and the beginning of the end of our original way of life for Indigenous people. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]
Interim study looks at services, resources for troubled children, families (Capitol Update): Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, hosted an interim study in the House Children, Family, and Youth Committee chaired by Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, last week to look at the feasibility of adding a “Family in Need of Services (FINS)” category to the Oklahoma Juvenile Code. According to Rep. Pae, 32 other states have a FINS statute, including neighboring Arkansas. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
Save The Date, Oct. 27: A Better Path Forward: OK Policy will be hosting a presentation about improving Oklahoma’s budget and tax systems to work on behalf of all Oklahomans. OK Policy staff will present about its latest paper followed by a response from Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn and a panel discussion. Please save the morning of October 27 on your calendar for this livestreamed event. Details will follow.
Quote of the Week
“Contrary to Oklahoma’s tale, McGirt has not rendered eastern Oklahoma a criminal dystopia.”
-The Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the Tribe says the state has used hyperbole and unsubstantiated numbers to claim the decision in McGirt v Oklahoma has caused a crisis in public safety [The Oklahoman]
Editorial of the Week
Tulsa’s housing plan worked in staving off evictions, but only for now
Tulsa’s collaboration on an eviction prevention plan paid off with the number of people getting help from a newly formed assistance program greater than that of those going to court.
The federal eviction moratorium was always going to end, and aid was available to support renters and landlords during the economic downturn.
Tulsa advocates came together to design the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. It’s facilitated by the nonprofit Restore Hope with funding coming through the city, county and state. Housing Solutions has been a leading partner in the process to dovetail the program into the city’s long-range housing plan.
For convenience, an eviction hub was set up across from the courthouse where the eviction cases are heard.
Prepandemic, Tulsa had the 11th highest eviction rate in the country. It was expected to return to that level, and possibly worse, when the moratorium lifted Sept. 1.
That didn’t happen, according to reporter Michael Overall.
Landlords filed 906 cases last month. This is only slightly more than 200 cases filed on average per month during the moratorium, when reasons for filing were stricter.
It appears that tenants and landlords turned to ERAP instead. About 400 more applications were filed in September than in the previous month. It is about 1,500 more applicants than in July.
That’s a good thing. Tenants get help, stay in their homes and don’t wreck their credit. Landlords get paid.
Eviction prevention becomes particularly important as Tulsa faces a shortage of about 3,000 affordable housing units. Those evicted have a hard time finding housing, leading them into homelessness.
Since April, ERAP has distributed more than $15 million to more than 3,000 Tulsa households with overdue rent. In total, Tulsa has provided about $19.6 million from federal stimulus aid for rental assistance.
That is not going to last forever. Funding will keep the program alive through next fall, and some federal funding will be available through 2024.
Advocates have identified long-term solutions including updates to the state’s Landlord Tenant Act. Lawmakers have a chance to do what Tulsans have done — listen, collaborate and act.
Tulsans created an efficient and successful program with ERAP, and we hope it can persevere to continue helping renters and landlords beyond the availability of stimulus funding.
Numbers of the Day
- >3,000 – Number of Tulsa households that have received support through the federally funded Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which has distributed more than $15 million to Tulsa tenants since payments began in April [Tulsa World]
- 80 – Number of youth, per 100,000 juveniles, who reside in juvenile detention, correctional and/or residential facilities in Oklahoma [KIDS COUNT]
- 16% – Percentage of Oklahomans who reported being American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination during the 2020 Census [U.S. Census]
- 10.1 – The health care coverage gap between white and Latino adults shrank by 10.1 percentage points in Medicaid expansion states between 2013 and 2019 versus 7.5 percentage points in non-expansion states. The coverage gap between white and Black adults shrank by 5.1 percentage points in expansion states versus 4.6 percentage points in non-expansion states. [CBPP]
- 1 in 5 – In 2020, Hispanics made up nearly one-in-five people in the U.S. (19%), up from 16% in 2010 and just 5% in 1970. [Pew Research]
What We’re Reading
- Evictions and the Pandemic Economy in the Tenth District [Kansas City Fed]
- Eight Principles to Transform Care for Young People in the Justice System [Annie E. Casey Foundation]
- Data Disaggregation: The Asterisk Nation [National Congress of American Indians’ Policy Research Center]
- Closing Coverage Gap a Crucial Step for Health Equity in Rural Communities of Color [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
- Hispanic Heritage Month [PBS]
NOTE: National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Each week, OK Policy will share policy notes and numbers to recognize this commemoration.