Unprecedented Effort Launched To Give Tulsa Homeless A Way Home
TULSA, Oklahoma - The City of Tulsa and the Community Service Council have launched a new effort to end homelessness, spurred in part by a steady rise in the number of people without a place to live. The latest numbers show homelessness is up 7% in Tulsa over the last 10 years, with 6,000 people now homeless in Tulsa.
While the resources have grown over the years, not until now have so many groups agreed to work together, in Tulsa. More than 300 people representing 25 private and public groups kicked off a strategy session to address the problem.
"We've done a lot of work around affordable housing in our community," said Patrice Pratt, with the Community Service Council, "but we don't necessarily always treat it like a crisis, a public health crisis and today is the beginning of that opportunity."
The CSC will help organize the work done by front line agencies like John 3:16, where their overnight shelter is routinely overcrowded by 25 - 40 people. They're working to build a second facility.
The Rev. Steve Whitaker, director of the center, said, "I just think we're in the middle of a culture change that we don't fully understand because we're in the middle of it, but we have good, competent people who are applying themselves to the circumstances."
Last year - the City of Tulsa launched the "Better Way" program that provides day jobs for panhandlers. They're offered help with whatever is keeping them from working - and because of it - 50 people now have jobs.
It's a bright spot for the agencies working on a growing problem, and so is the outreach to U.S. Veterans. Through a coordinated effort, 1,100 veterans have found shelter after being homeless in Tulsa.