Tulsa’s Homeless Forced To Move From Tent City

Tuesday, October 31st 2006, 9:45 pm
By: News On 6

Homeless Tulsans are being forced to move from Tent City. Everyone had to be out of the makeshift community along the Arkansas River by midnight, Tuesday, or face being forcibly removed.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright says it appears everyone has gotten word about the deadline and cleared out.

'Tent City' was deserted Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule. The wooded area along the river and near the levees has been a home to the homeless for years, but officials decided in May it was no longer safe for people to live along the river.

Since then, social service agencies throughout the city have encouraged Tent City residents to get out. Michael Browse with the Mental Health Association says they’ve helped the homeless “find, and move out of that life into a safe affordable place to live."

There are some remnants of a fire and some trash lying around, but for the most part, tent city cleared out before the deadline, and those who work with the homeless say they're not sure exactly where they have gone, but they're not here any longer."

At least 10 though have found their way to Salvation Army shelters. "We were able to connect with 10 separate individuals to come in and stay in our shelter and work with our case manager, to connect them with any different services they need to become self sufficient," said the Salvation Army’s Arletta Robinson.

Another woman has moved into transitional housing offered by the Mental Health Association. Also living there is Rick Bimbo, who moved in after seven years on the streets. He says everyone displaced from Tent City should be open to accepting help. "Take advantage. It’s offered to you, take it, you'd be foolish not to take it," said Bimbo.

As for Tent City, The Mental Health Association feels shutting it down was the right thing to do, and says no one should be forced to live in those conditions. "I don't think any Tulsan likes the idea that anyone is living down on that river in some sort of makeshift shelter, I think it troubles all of us," Browse said.

If there's anyone left in Tent City, starting Wednesday, the levee district can complain to the Tulsa Sheriff's Office, which could then arrest or forcibly remove the individuals.