Tulsa Leaders On A Mission To End Homelessness By 2016

Thursday, June 4th 2015, 11:26 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa leaders are on a mission to try to end homelessness by 2016. Thursday, 24 organizations kicked off the Zero: 2016 campaign.

The first goal is ending veteran homelessness, and the second is putting a stop to chronic homelessness.

It is very ambitious, but everyone involved, from organizers to people who used to live on the streets, are confident it's possible.

Last year alone, more than 800 people in Tulsa who used to live on the streets, or in and out of the Day Shelter downtown, now have their own apartments and a place to call home.

From big to small apartments all over the city, there are 22 housing facilities filled with people who used to be homeless.

Christiana Lopez lives in one of the complexes near Brookside.

"This is my little apartment, this is my baby right here," she said, with her dog by her side.

She has a kitchen filled with food, furniture and a "peace wall" in the living room. Some of the pictures used to help her get through the nights, living in a tent near the Arkansas River with her dog.

"I enjoy waking up in the morning. I am grateful to wake up and have a door that locks,” Lopez said.

Like most everyone else, Lopez never thought she would live on the streets.

"A lot of people just look at us like, ‘Oh go get a job.' Some people can't get a job; they don't know how to get a job. They have mental illness they have so bad and don't know how," she said.

Lopez got help from a number of organizations that make up A Way Home for Tulsa.

Now the group is taking on the ultimate challenge, eliminate homelessness in Tulsa by the end of 2016.

Mack Haltom with the Tulsa Day Center said, "We are wanting the community to get behind us as well and to help us find housing units because we are going to need additional housing units to do this."

“We need to preserve affordable housing that already exists. We need more housing subsidize to keep it affordable," said Greg Shinn, Associate Director of Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

Right now, there are about 400 homeless people in Tulsa; nearly three-fourths are veterans.

The first priority of Zero: 2016 is getting veterans housed.

The hope is they will one day have several success stories like Lopez.

“I have a place to stay, I have people who care about me, and it's awesome,” she said.

Tulsa joins 74 other cities participating in the national campaign.

A Way Home for Tulsa is made up of a number of organizations that also provide services for those who are placed in housing.

Shinn said pairing housing with services is the key to ending homelessness for good, and making sure people have what they need.

Once placed in a home, organizations like John 3:16 step in and help families get furniture and other things to fill their homes.

The monthly goal for Zero: 2016 is to find 24 veterans and four people others who are chronically homeless a home every month until the end of 2016.

You can follow the program and see how many people are getting housed online.