Gatesway Foundation Advocates for Expanded Access to Housing for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Oklahoma

Tulsa, August 17, 2023– Gatesway Foundation, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), is raising its voice to address the pressing issue of housing accessibility and affordability in Oklahoma. Recent reports highlight the urgent need for legislators to take decisive action to expand access to housing, especially for vulnerable populations like those with I/DD.

The recent article published by Oklahoma Policy Institute ("Oklahoma Legislators Need to Do More to Expand Access to Housing") sheds light on the critical situation concerning housing in the state. With an increasing number of eviction filings, a staggering 46,688 in 2022, Oklahoma's eviction rates have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, placing immense strain on individuals and families. Gatesway Foundation recognizes the severe implications these trends have on the I/DD community, exacerbating their already existing challenges.

Individuals with I/DD often face unique hurdles in accessing stable housing, which is essential for their overall well-being and quality of life. As the eviction crisis deepens, these vulnerable individuals are disproportionately affected, enduring heightened levels of instability and uncertainty.

The article rightfully addresses the staggering low cost of filing evictions. These low eviction costs lead to higher evictions in the area, naturally impacting underserved communities most. Three friends of Gatesway were recently victim to the eviction process. The landlord failed inspection with Section 8 for refusing to make necessary repairs to the home. Section 8 subsequently discontinued the supplement that allowed the tenants to afford their modest home, leading to eviction. Ultimately, it was easier and more cost effective for the landlord to refuse the repairs and file for the eviction.

The judge proceeding over the eviction gave the tenants extended time to locate new housing. Due to the cost and lack of available affordable housing, the tenants were faced with no other choice than to live in a hotel for more than three months that was sponsored by Gatesway. Gatesway continues to raise funds for a campaign that would offer affordable and quality housing to community members.

"Our mission at Gatesway Foundation is to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and this mission extends to advocating for their right to accessible and stable housing," said Elijah Blankenship, Chief Development Office of Gatesway Foundation. "We urge legislators in Oklahoma to recognize the urgency of this situation and take decisive steps to expand access to affordable housing, ensuring that individuals with I/DD can lead dignified lives within their communities. Housing should a non-negotiable for vulnerable Oklahomans."

Gatesway Foundation calls upon policymakers to collaborate with organizations, community leaders, and advocates to implement comprehensive strategies that address the housing crisis and its impact on individuals with I/DD. By fostering a supportive environment and enacting meaningful policy changes, Oklahoma can pave the way for a brighter future for its most vulnerable residents.

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Elijah Blankenship

Chief Development Officer