HUD grant money helps Tulsa's 12 & 12 Program

Thursday, January 27th 2005, 11:45 am
By: News On 6

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving a record number of grants to agencies all across America. Almost a billion and a half dollars in all.

So what does that really mean? Well, some of that money winds up here in Tulsa. As News on 6 reporter Steve Berg explains, some of that money winds up helping Nick.

"I was a drug addict all my life from the time I was 14 years old." Nick was what he calls a garbage pail junkie, which means he had tried just about every drug at one time or another. Introduced to drugs by an older relative, moved from Brooklyn to Tulsa when his wife was transferred here, he bounced from job to job in a downward spiral. "Lost my marriage 'cause of drugs, lost a lot of things because of drugs."

Nick eventually got into Tulsa's 12 & 12 Program and is now in what they call their 'independent living' program, which is possible in part because of the HUD money that was announced this week.

"This particular program, the homeless population, to be successful, needed to have structure that was long enough to practice all those things they had learned." 12 & 12 Program director Tom Bray says in the past, people would get de-tox and counseling, but with no family structure, no job history, they had almost no chance when they were sent back out. "It was not a well spent dollar to pay for somebody to go through treatment and then ask them to go back to Brady under the bridge and ask them to stay healthy, well, and clean, and sober. It just didn't equate."

So Nick gets a modest apartment in a converted motel that he shares with a roommate, that's only partially funded by HUD. He pays part of his own rent with his job at a fast-food place. "I'm a manager now. I pay my rent, I bought a nice car. I have a 401-K plan. I mean my life's right on track, and this place done it for me."

Steve Berg: "Where do you think you would be if not for this program?"

Nick: “Probably six feet under." Now, he says. “Life is wonderful."

Other programs in Tulsa also got money, including the Salvation Army, the Mental Health Association, and Domestic Violence Services among others.