Streets To Apartments, Organization Looks To End Tulsa Homelessness

Tuesday, May 13th 2014, 10:16 pm
By: News On 6

Homeless people in Tulsa are going straight from the streets to apartments, and now, cities across the nation are taking notice of how Tulsa is handling homelessness.

More than a hundred chronically homeless people have been taken off the streets and it could save taxpayers thousands.

There are 88 chronically homeless people in Tulsa and the Denver House one place where they go for shelter.

A few years ago, 200 chronically homeless people would have stayed there, but thanks to new initiatives like the Better Box Project, more homeless people are getting homes.

Standing in her new two-bedroom apartment, Amber Bautista doesn't forget that just two years ago she slept on streets.

"Scary. I was very lost, very lost feeling," Bautista said.

She said drug addiction got her there, and major depression kept her on the streets for two and a half years.

"That was the scariest part, when the hopelessness started setting in," Bautista said.

Two years ago Bautista reached out for help and got a one-bedroom apartment.

"Everybody hates homelessness, but they don't know what to do about it," said Executive Director of Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Michael Brose.

Brose oversaw the purchase of 850 apartments in Tulsa.

Homeless people, or those at risk of becoming homeless, can move into an apartment straight off the streets. They later undergo treatment and get help finding a job so they can start paying some rent.

"If you're not worrying about where you're sleeping tonight, and you're not worrying about where your next meal is coming from, then you're safe, and you can start thinking about other things," said Brose.

Brose is now launching a national campaign, the Better Box Project, to implement the program across the country.

Not only does it save taxpayers money by preventing the homeless from going to jail or the ER, Brose said it also turns them into taxpayers.

"You're either going to be a drain on the community, or you're going to be a contributor to the community, and we're turning people from drains to contributors," he said.

In her new apartment, Bautista is happy to be a contributor. She now works for Mental Health Association Oklahoma, helping homeless people.

There are still an estimated 700 homeless people in Tulsa.

The Better Box Project asks for $25 dollars which pays a day's rent for those apartments.