COVID-19 Drives Increase In Homelessness In Tulsa

Thursday, August 13th 2020, 6:19 pm
By: William Blanchette

TULSA, Okla. -

According to recent data, there’s been an increase of homelessness in Tulsa. 

Sarah Grounds, the Executive Director for the City Lights Foundation for Oklahoma, said the uptake has a lot to do with COVID-19, as shelters are having to push more folks outside to follow social distancing.

“We have to ask ourselves, are we going to sit and worry how someone got here or put in an action plan,” Grounds said.

The non-profit works with those experiencing homelessness in Tulsa. Every year, they take part in the “Point in Time Count,” which tries to pinpoint the number of homeless people in the city.

“We get a count of who’s outside, who’s using our shelters and what has brought them to Tulsa,” Grounds said.

The data shows that from 2019 to 2020, there’s been a 3% increase in homelessness in the city.

Erin Willis at Housing Solutions said the rise also means they’re seeing chronic homelessness go up.

“It’s defined as someone who has a disability, that can be a physical, mental health condition, substance abuse issues,” Willis said.

Since May, Grounds said they’ve housed 17 people and that number is still growing.

Willis said they’re planning a lot of federal funds through the CARES act in hopes of trying to curve homelessness in Tulsa.