FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 7, 2020
Melissa Sublett, Executive Director
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. Urges Governor and Oklahoma Supreme Court to Protect Oklahomans from Evictions Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. (ODLC) sent a letter Tuesday asking Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma Supreme Court to investigate why eviction hearings are still taking place despite the Supreme Court’s March 27th order halting all but emergency civil proceedings and further imploring that they issue clear guidance forbidding evictions during this pandemic.
It has come to ODLC’s attention that civil eviction and forceable entry and detainer actions are still being filed in and heard by several courts throughout the state. In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Governor’s recent Emergency Declarations and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Joint Emergency Orders, this ongoing practice is unacceptable. In the face of numerous shelter in place, safer at home and social distancing orders, the last thing people need to be worrying about right now is whether or not they will be able to remain in their homes and apartments in order to comply with these orders. Allowing eviction proceedings to continue by removing people from their homes during the state of emergency, is not only counter to standing Court orders and best medical advice, but is also cruel and completely ignores one of the most urgent and immediate needs of our state’s residents: the need for adequate shelter. The public health impact that continued evictions may have during a time when Oklahomans are being asked/ordered to stay at home could be substantial.
“Forcing anyone from their homes during this catastrophic health crisis is unacceptable, and it is especially dangerous and traumatic for people with disabilities. We ask the Governor to take immediate steps to ensure no one is evicted during this pandemic,” said Melissa Sublett, Executive Director, Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc.
“A statewide moratorium on evictions is urgently needed to mitigate the hardship confronting many Oklahomas who have already seen or will soon experience an unexpected and significant drop in income. Evicting people during this pandemic unnecessarily puts lives at risk,” said ODLC’s Legal Director, Brian Wilkerson.Letter to Governor and Office of the Courts-Evictions