Funding cut impacts homeless services in Tulsa

Friday, February 10th 2006, 11:01 am
By: News On 6

Drastic federal funding cuts are taking millions of dollars away from agencies that help Oklahoma's homeless. In Tulsa, the budget many local groups count on is being cut in half.

The News on 6's Heather Lewin explains who this will impact. In reality, it affects us all in a way. There are programs that keep people in need off our streets. Oklahoma got the second largest funding cut in the nation. Programs that were paid for for nearly a decade, suddenly don't meet the government's requirements.

Coming home every night means more to this man than most people. His name is Craig.
And this time last year, he didn't have a place to come home to. "The company I worked for was in bad straits, and I lost my job. 54, I didn't have anywhere to stay, I'd been evicted from my home cause I couldn't afford to pay for it."

A former sales rep, Craig suddenly found himself one of Tulsa's homeless crippled by severe depression and considering suicide. “I felt helpless, truly helpless for one of the first times in my life."

After weeks on the street, then a shelter, the Mental Health Association, a place Craig had never even heard of before, gave him a place to live and the help he needed. "I've been able to grow, I've been able to rebuild my life, been able to have some kind of purpose in my life and I'll be eternally grateful to the association for what they've done for me."

But Craig is one of the lucky ones. Drastic funding cuts are putting many programs at risk and without that money, other people who need help, just like he did, could be left to fend for themselves on the street. "These are people that we're serving with this program who have moved from homelessness to safe, affordable, decent housing in our community." Mike Brose with the Mental Health Association got word a few weeks ago half of the federal housing money wouldn't be coming, dollars that also provide domestic violence counseling, legal services, and more.

"These cuts put all this effort, all the work we've done, all we've built up in our community, have put them at jeopardy."

The government funds these groups by scoring grant applications. This year, Tulsa missed a full- funding score by a quarter of a point. Both the city and state are appealing the decision.