As we near the end of our 10 piece series on the high-crime motels at 11th and Garnett, we focus our attention on the growing homeless population and those suffering from mental health illnesses.
The Mental Health Association of Tulsa has several teams that canvass Tulsa County providing research to low-income areas. Noe Rodriguez, with the Mental Health Association, met with us to talk about the struggles he and his teams see.
“It’s also difficult to find affordable housing when you’re on social security and you make $772.00 a month to try to find a place that will accept you. It’s also difficult if you have a felony whether it’s 10 years old, five years old or 20 years old to find a place that would also rent to you.”
The advocacy agency works to help find housing and connect those in need with often time life-saving or life-changing services. At 11th and Garnett the teams work to get those living in the high-crime motels into stable housing. They also work to find housing for the homeless that are living in encampments – at 11th and Garnett, that area is often behind the Oak Tree Inn or along the creek behind the Brookshire Motel.
“The difficulty is breaking the cycle. Having enough money for deposits, to run a background check for them, application fees, those kinds of things are really hard on the front end.”
Rodriguez says, the rapid rehousing program is working but still more needs to be done on the frontlines.
“We need more people, whether it’s to give financially, to be willing to provide services, landlords to say, we will reduce rent for people who are coming in off the streets – we just need a collaborative effort from the community.”
Right next door to the broken and abandoned Tulsa Economy Inn stands a church that is also working to serve those who are willing to turn their lives around.
Pastor, Sharyn Cosby founded In The Spirit Christian Church at 11th and Garnett seven years ago.
“We decided since we were put in this area that obviously we would do something about it,” Cosby said.
Breakfast and lunch are served for anyone who comes by Monday – Thursday. Recently the church added a homeless outreach coordinator position and Cosby isn’t shy about her intentions to buy and abandoned nearby property to turn into a youth community center.
“Addressing the problem is actually finding solutions that will help the people get off the street and get them into the services they need to have.”
HIGH CRIME HOTEL SERIES