Homeless Seeking Shade, Water At Downtown Tulsa Park
TULSA, Oklahoma - Some of the homeless trying to get relief from the extreme heat are ending up in a downtown Tulsa park, but that's creating worries about safety and sanitation, and the problem might be growing.
In the last couple of weeks, as it's gotten hotter, more homeless people have shown up in Chapman Centennial Park and they're staying for the night.
The city is trying to discourage it, but for the homeless, it seems to be too convenient to pass up.
City parks employees were out early Monday cleaning up and throwing out the belongings of homeless people who have migrated into the Chapman Centennial Park.
The people who work and live around the park said the overnight crowd has been building for the last two weeks.
Restaurant owner, Chris West said, "They play in the fountain and wash in the fountain and it's a problem, it's a tough problem to have. You want to help them, give them water, without affecting your business."
Nearby businesses worry that having an encampment of homeless people is scaring off customers and workers worry about their safety cutting through the early morning and late night crowd.
Misty Sparkman said she slept in the park over the weekend.
“Yes I did. Is that illegal? It's probably illegal, there's a curfew,” she said.
Sparkman said the heat is driving the homeless to anywhere they can get water and stay cool at night. The park has shade, even during the middle of the day, and at night it's quiet, except for the fountain.
"This is why people are coming, here, the fountain and this right here, the shade, and that, it's a water source man,” Sparkman said.
One other recent attraction was taken out Monday morning, a line of toilets and sinks were brought in for a festival giving homeless people facilities right in the park.
Nearby social services mean the park is a crossroads.
“I've been kept clothed and full, all from the kindness of strangers,” said Sparkman.
City security has been patrolling the park several times each day and whenever security shows up the homeless scatter, but they keep coming back, in greater numbers, each night.