Tulsa Shelters Overflowing As Homeless Numbers Grow
TULSA, Oklahoma - Shelters for the homeless are full in Tulsa, and with the warmer weather, you may have noticed many people are sleeping on the streets.
People at John 3:16 are working to turn a former school into a place where the homeless can be housed and taught life skills to re-enter the workforce.
But, there’s more work to be done as the need keeps rising.
It's a sight many people drive by every day and don't think much about - homeless men and women living on the street - and it's a problem that's getting worse.
"Every shelter is running at 110 percent, and then I, like you, have noticed the number of people on the streets," said Reverend Steve Whitaker with John 3:16. "It is always a concern when we go into overflow, and we've been in overflow for a long time now."
Whitaker said between shelter bed counts and the Homeless Management Information System, about 6,000 to 7,000 people are homeless in Tulsa every year.
"If a tornado were to sweep through Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 6,000, 7,000 people were left homeless, that would cause such a great outcry that resources would pour in from every corner and all kinds of good things would happen in our community," he said.
The John 3:16 Mission offers hot meals, a safe place to sleep and services to those on the street. And while Whitaker said Tulsa has wonderful resources, it's still not enough to combat the problem.
"Funding is down right now, we don't receive any federal funding, but our friends that receive federal funding have indicated that some of the entitlements are not being fulfilled anymore. The government just can't give that money, and people in our community are hurting as well," Whitaker said.
With more and more homeless popping up in neighborhoods across town, the reverend hopes people will take notice and help.
Whitaker said homelessness is up nationwide; and with Oklahoma’s recent budget cuts, it will likely continue to get worse.