City Council Takes Tour To Learn About Homelessness In Tulsa

Tuesday, May 2nd 2017, 6:34 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa's City Council knows more now about homelessness and mental illness after councilors experienced the needs and challenges of the city's homeless in a new way.

"I used meth for 20 years off and on. I've been homeless. I've been to prison, been in and out of mental institutions starting at 17 years old," said Denver House's Bethany Willyard. 

But, Willyard said she's clean now.

"I've been out of prison for four years and working for the Mental Health Association Oklahoma for four years now and I will also graduate college next May, so I'm super excited," Willyard said. 

That's thanks in part to the Denver House.

"They have given me a sense of worth, I get to see where I came from in different perspectives, It gives me a sense of being able to give back, what has been given to me," Willyard said. 

And now, she is doing just that, giving back to the community that helped her get clean.

"Now, I can help those individuals that have had the same struggles that I did that didn't have those resources and now they do," Willyard said. 
Willyard is one of the Oklahoma Mental Health Association's many success stories.

She shared her journey with city leaders during a bus tour Tuesday.

Willyard hopes the tour will inspire councilors to continue supporting the organizations that helped her turn her life around. 

"It just brings it into reality, so we aren't reading about it, we aren't seeing pictures about it, we've actually been there and we have seen the actual people who are needing and receiving these services," said District 8 City Councilman Phil Lakin. 

As part of the tour, city councilors visited housing for the homeless and they met representatives from more than 23 agencies pushing to treat mental illness and prevent homelessness.

"It's really critically important that we as city councilors know how every single citizen in Tulsa is impacted," Lakin said. 

Lakin said the problem of homelessness is really a community issue and he urges everyone who can to get involved in creating a solution.