Tulsa County District Court recently received a grant from the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Eviction Diversion Initiative to strengthen eviction diversion efforts and improve housing stability across Tulsa County.
Tulsa County District Court is one of 10 state and local courts selected through a competitive application process and review by an advisory council composed of state court chief justices and court administrators.
“The number of cases in our eviction court is staggering,” said District Judge Doug Drummond, Tulsa County District Courts presiding judge. “Reducing cases that go to court is a priority as is helping families who are legally evicted find another place to live. The court’s role is to provide a fair forum for both landlords and tenants, but the overall goal for our community is to reduce homelessness. This grant will enhance efforts to do that.”
Each court will use the grant funding to hire dedicated staff to implement holistic, sustainable, and community driven strategies for resolving legal problems. Successful eviction diversion programs provide landlords and tenants with the time, information, and resources necessary to resolve their housing problems in the least harmful way.
Prior to the pandemic, Tulsa County had one of the worst eviction rates in the country. Research from The Eviction Lab, a research group based at Princeton University, highlighted Tulsa County as the 11th worst in the nation for eviction rates per capita among more than 3,100 U.S. counties.
While the eviction moratorium halted all evictions during the height of the pandemic, updated data from Open Justice Oklahoma shows rates have remained well under pre-pandemic, pre-moratorium levels.
Housing Solutions, Tulsa County and other partners, including Restore Hope Ministries and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, have worked to decrease and maintain low-eviction rates.
“This program will greatly complement the work Housing Solutions and other partners have done to stop homelessness before it begins and leave eviction as a last resort,” said Becky Gligo, Housing Solutions executive director. “Our Social Services Hub, which operates across the street from where the eviction docket is heard, helped 2,912 clients last year and 3,319 total clients since opening in August 2021. We are excited about the Tulsa County District Court’s commitment and this incredible opportunity to enhance eviction diversion inside the courtroom.”
Housing Solutions partners with Tulsa County District Courts on eviction diversion inside and outside the courtroom, including services provided through the Social Services Hub. Housing Solutions helped the Tulsa County District Court apply for the grant.
In addition to keeping families housed, this program will refine courtroom policies to also assist landlords and ensure best practices in evictions.
“This program stands to enhance the impact Housing Solutions and other partners are having in our community,” said Shandi Stoner, Housing Solutions Chief Programs Officer. “It’s designed to support further implementation of best practices for eviction to Tulsa. Beyond that, Tulsa is an early recipient in the program, so the policies we establish can be used in courtrooms across the country. Tulsa has an opportunity to become a national leader in eviction diversion and prevention.”
Funding for the program was made possible through a $10 million Wells Fargo Foundation grant awarded to NCSC in 2021 to strengthen eviction diversion efforts in state courts and improve housing stability.
Visit ncsc.org/eviction for more information about NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative.