Tulsa’s 'A Better Way' Program Making Impact on Homelessness
TULSA, Oklahoma - There are fewer Oklahomans on the streets than last year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual report on homelessness.
HUD said in a news release Monday that 3,871 Oklahomans experienced homelessness on a single night this year.
That's a 7.8 percent decrease from last year, according to the release.
The Mental Health Association Oklahoma said Tulsa's number stayed roughly the same as last year, at about 1,000.
A program called "A Better Way" has been in Tulsa since March, and said it has helped people find homes and jobs this year.
Kellie Wilson with the Mental Health Association Oklahoma said while it hasn’t been in Tulsa for a full year yet, the program is making a measurable difference.
Jon Duncan is one of about 600 people who has participated in the program. He and a handful of other homeless Tulsans were paid Monday for cleaning up Tulsa parks.
"I have $65. Well, hard-earned money,” Duncan said. “Honest, hard-earned money."
The program gives people the chance to work for one day and get connected to resources that can help find a permanent job, housing and healthcare.
"Everybody has a story,” Duncan said. “If it's not mental illness, it's your parents died, or you just made some bad decisions, you know?"
"It's amazing to see some of the transformations that have happened with the program,” Wilson said.
Because of the program, nine Tulsans who used to live on the streets now have stable housing. And, she said, 35 people have a stable, competitive job.
"Now that we've got a few months under our belt, we are really growing very, very quickly,” Wilson added.
Not everybody's a drug addict, not everybody's a loser, there's some good people out here,” Duncan said.
A Better Way encourages people to donate to organizations that help the homeless, rather than give someone cash.