Legal help is coming to renters facing eviction in two of OKC’s most vulnerable areas: the 73111 ZIP code in northeast Oklahoma City, and 73119 in the southwest part of the city.
“Right to Counsel” is a pilot initiative of non-profits Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Inc., part of its broader effort to prevent evictions and “the disruption of housing instability.” It started last month, but Legal Aid started pushing the program this week on social media, asking allies to post about it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Legal Aid is also asking churches and other organizations to help get the word out that it “may be able to provide you with free assistance if you qualify and live in ZIP codes 73111 or 73119. Don’t wait for your eviction hearing. Call as soon as possible as you have problems with your landlord.” The number to call is 405-554-INFO (4636).
‘Right to Counsel’ is just starting out in OKC’s 73111 and 73119 ZIP codes
The program “strives to engage the vulnerable population in advance of an eviction filing” and provide legal assistance “at a stage where more options are available to the client than would be at an eviction hearing,” a spokeswoman said.
It only initially is focusing on the 73111 area, from Kelley Avenue east to Bryant Avenue, and from Wilshire Boulevard south to NE 16, and the 73119 area, which is roughly from Newcastle Road east to S Blackwelder Avenue, and from SW 29 south to SW 59, north and east of Will Rogers World Airport.
“Each has a significant population vulnerable to a cascade of housing instability that all too often culminates in violence,” Legal Aid said.
In eviction cases followed last year by the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation, just 4% of renters had an attorney, compared to 51% of landlords,” Legal Aid said, citing a report by StreetlightNews.org, a nonprofit housing and criminal justice news site formerly called BigIfTrue.org.
Legal Aid said it “believes in the ability to engage with potential clients and provide legal assistance ahead of an eviction summons offers a family the ability to make choices from a position of empowerment.”
Senior Business Writer Richard Mize has covered housing, construction, commercial real estate and related topics for the newspaper and Oklahoman.com since 1999. Contact him at [email protected]. Sign up for his weekly newsletter, Real Estate with Richard Mize.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Legal Aid Services offers Right to Counsel to stem evictions in OKC
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