Oklahoma City offers many helpful resources
That was the countable number of homeless people in the Oklahoma City area in 2014, according to homelessalliance.org.
Though the state’s homeless population has declined significantly since 2010, Oklahoma City’s homeless population had increased by 20 percent in 2013, according to a national report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Homeless Alliance, located on 1724 NW 4th St. in Oklahoma City, is an example of the resources available to the homeless. Communications Director Kinsey Crocker said the mission is to rally the community to end homelessness.
Crocker said it’s a broad goal since there’s not one easy solution so the focus is to look at gaps in services.
“We work with other non-profit government agencies and community partners to help (prevent) homelessness,” she said. “We look at [the] best practices used around the country and try to bring new initiatives around Oklahoma City.”
Crocker said some examples of the programs are operating the WestTown homeless resource campus, which is located near the Homeless Alliance.
She said the campus includes two buildings — a one-stop social service building and a day shelter.
“It’s a safe, warm, dry place for people to go to during the day.”
The day shelter is open five days a week and averages about 275 people per day, Crocker said. The shelter provides lunch and breakfast, showers, phones and computers. A lot of different services and agencies try to engage people in programs to help end their homelessness, she said.
“About half of the people who go there are unsheltered, meaning they don’t go to one of the overnight shelters here in Oklahoma City,” she said.
Homelessness is a complex issue, Crocker said, so one agency addressing every single issue wouldn’t work.
“We wanted to bring multiple agencies under one roof, so if you’re in a crisis and you’re homeless, you don’t have to navigate the system — you’re not driving around trying to access all these agencies, she said.
“[Instead], you can come to one building and get their resources under one roof. That’s the resource building on campus.”
There are about 1,400 people who are homeless in Oklahoma City, Crocker said.
“A lot of those people blend in … . You wouldn’t necessarily recognize them if you passed them on a street corner.
“I think it’s important for the community to know that there are people out there who are struggling with homelessness.
“There are organizations out here in the city who are doing a really good job.
“We’ve made a lot of progress here in Oklahoma City because of such great collaborators.”
Oklahoma City recently joined in a national effort to house all chronically homeless people, or people who have been homeless for a year.
According to www.homelessalliance.org, statistics show 12 percent of Oklahoma City homeless people are chronically homeless, 35 percent reported being mentally ill, 33 percent reported substance abuse and 12 percent say they are veterans.
For more information about shelters and resources, contact The Homeless Alliance at 405-415-8410, or visit www.homelessalliance.org, cityrescue.org, www.jesushouseokc.org or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org.
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