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New Survey Results Will Help Guide Five-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Oklahoma

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The results are in from a survey intended to help guide a new five-year plan to end homelessness in Oklahoma.

More than 650 nonprofits, state employees and concerned citizens responded to the wide-ranging survey from the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. GICH Chair Ed Long said 80 percent of them said a lack of funding is holding up progress in their communities or the state.

"The other thing that was noted by respondents was even where there are resources or where there are funding opportunities, oftentimes there’s a lack of an awareness of where those are or how to access them or how to connect to them or what they’re for," Long said.

In addition, 86 percent of respondents said a lack of access to mental health services is hindering progress, and 77 percent said a lack of affordable housing is an obstacle.

Most respondents said organizations are doing just a fair or poor job of getting the homeless into permanent housing after they’ve been in a hospital, the child welfare system, prison or a behavioral health facility. The transition from prison to housing was rated the worst, with 60 percent saying it’s 'poor.'

"One of the biggest opportunities for us as a state is to improve those transitions from … one system into permanent housing and to make sure there aren’t any gaps in services so folks aren’t falling through those cracks," Long said.

The survey also revealed some differences in how the state’s eight service areas, called continuums of care, perceive the job providers are doing. Tulsa thinks it’s better at using public-private partnerships than the rest of the state, and rural southeastern Oklahoma is very concerned about jobs, for example.

Long said those differences need to be considered.

"So, we’ll be working through our CoC network and through the relationships that we’ve established around the state to make sure that we’re being inclusive and engaging them throughout the process," Long said.

The statewide plan is due out in February. GICH does not provide direct services, but it is responsible for policy recommendations to the governor and offering providers expertise, coordination and support.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.