Drop In Homeless Rate Among OK Veterans Nearly Double National Average
New numbers show that more homeless veterans in Oklahoma are getting the help they need.
Oklahoma’s drop in the number of homeless veterans is double the national average.
Groups working to get them permanent housing here in Tulsa say their efforts are working and there’s still help for those who need it.
“A lot of the veterans may have, um, not the greatest rental history,” said Terri Cole from Tulsa Housing Authority.
The Tulsa Housing Authority is helping more than 50 formerly homeless veterans live in permanent housing through what are called VASH vouchers – government funding to help with rent and other services.
This month, it got 10 more vouchers.
“Looking for people in encampments and under the bridge, identifying those individuals, finding, ‘Okay, what do they need?’ ‘Can they live in a market unit?’ ‘Do they need permanent supportive housing?’” said Cole.
THA says it is working with more than 20 other groups, like Coffee Bunker, to combat the problem.
“There’s a big need for people to stand in the middle and be their voice,” said Scott Blackburn from Coffee Bunker. “They’re not going to say the things of how desperate or bad their situation actually is out of pride.”
Coffee Bunker says three homeless veterans walked through their doors Wednesday for help.
New numbers show Oklahoma’s rate of homeless veterans dropped 10.3 percent from last year. Nationally, the rate is down just 5.4 percent.
“There’s nothing worse than coming in with a false hope of getting help and then having to bounce from organization to organization,” said Blackburn. “When they work together the way the Tulsa does … you’re going to have those lower numbers.”
“They have served, they have sacrificed, their family has sacrificed, and it’s our duty as a housing authority, if there’s a housing need, we need to be able to be there for them.”
One success story, Army veteran Walter Smith, a welder who lost his job and became homeless, is now in housing with help from VASH vouchers.
If someone you know needs help, call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 918-610-2047 to get on the interest list.