Hero Highlights: With an Eviction Crisis Pending, Pastor and Nonprofit Leader Answers a Call

In typical “John Wesley Do all the good you can” fashion, Rev. Jeff Jaynes, executive director of Restore Hope Ministries, has become one of Tulsa’s leading crusaders to prevent homelessness and address food insecurity.

Right now, Jeff is very busy. With the United States facing a potential eviction and foreclosure crisis, leaders from around the state are collaborating on programs to keep people in their homes. Jaynes is one of those leaders. With a more than 99% success rate, Restore Hope ensures families have safe and stable housing. That stability is being tested by COVID-19.

“The people who are facing eviction are our neighbors and friends,” Jaynes said. “In the pandemic, 75% of evictions filed in Tulsa County were filed on people who had never faced eviction before. They are folks who worked in restaurants that closed due to the pandemic. They are workers in ‘non-essential’ health care practices that were shut down to make room for COVID beds. They go to church with us, go to school with our kids, and have the same hopes and dreams we all have. As of August 7th, over 6,000 evictions have been filed in the state of Oklahoma since the pandemic began (according to Open Justice Oklahoma). Those numbers would be a lot higher but for a federal moratorium on some evictions that was in place until July 25th. Now that that moratorium has expired, all of that past due rent is coming due and a tsunami of new evictions is coming later this month. We already had an eviction problem before COVID.”

Jaynes called it an “eviction nightmare.”

“Eviction is the avalanche that could be coming to Oklahoma,” Ginny Bass Carl said. Carl is heading up efforts in Oklahoma City to prevent evictions while helping to oversee CARES Act funding designed to keep people in their homes. “Jeff Jaynes works tirelessly to prevent families from losing their most important staple – their homes. This is hard work and so important that Oklahomans understand the gravity of the situation.”

Jaynes is one of many collaborators in the work, but he has taken a position in leadership to not only preserve housing for Tulsans, but to also advocate for more services and resources to prevent homelessness.

“We can prevent this crisis but it is going to take a community effort–even a statewide and national effort–to stem the tide,” Jaynes said. “We need to make sure people in need of help call 211 and gain access to the resources out there. We need to encourage alternatives to the legal processes of eviction like mediation which is free for all parties, can be done remotely, and is mutually successful to all parties over 90% of the time in eviction cases. We need to make sure all parties have equal access and equal representation in court hearings–and that they can attend those hearings when they have to. We need to make sure all parties know the laws governing evictions and follow those laws. Some of these things can be done by us as individuals, but some of them call us to ask our elected officials to update the outdated procedures of eviction and ensure fairness and opportunity for landlords and tenants.”

In addition, his work in addressing food insecurity helps ensure basic needs are met. Restore Hope also provides counseling services to address emotional and spiritual needs.

Prior to leading Restore Hope, Jaynes pastored the Southern Hills United Methodist Church. A Tulsa native, he holds degrees from Georgetown and Duke University.

He also added that the Wesley quote of “Do all the good you can,” has universal meaning in these times.

“As a United Methodist, this is one of our ‘General Rules’ so I know that mission well,” he said. “It certainly means we need to do good things–like the old Scout motto to ‘do a good turn daily.’ But it means so much more than that. It means going out of our way to do good–not just what is good for us but what is good for ALL people. It means a tireless effort to make things right–both now and for the future. It means giving of ourselves for the good of others. That’s what nonprofit staff, boards, and volunteers do every day, of course, but that is our clarion call. I’m so fortunate to have a job that allows me to follow that call–and get paid for it!–but it is as true for me when I’m not working as it is in our work at Restore Hope.”

He left us with another important writing about the social implications of “doing good.” It boiled down to justice and taking care of neighbors.

“I have a little book in my office by Bishop Reuben Job of the UMC about our General Rules. He has a section on the rule to do good and has a great quote from John Wesley that fits the nonprofit sector well: ‘There is scarce any possible way of doing good for which here is not daily occasion….Here are poor families to be relieved: Here are children to be educated: Here are workhouses, wherein both young and old gladly receive the word of exhortation: Here are the prisons, and therein a complication of all human wants.’ From John Wesley’s ‘Journal from August 12, 1738, to November 1, 1739,’ in John Wesley’s Works, Vol. 1; page 181.

To Jeff and his team, we thank you for your leadership to prevent homelessness. Keep doing good!

Join us, Wednesday August 19, at 10 a.m. to hear Jeff and Ginny discuss the looming eviction crisis in Oklahoma and how all of us can pitch in to help.

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