Mayor pushes to open low-barrier shelter by end of 2024
Tulsa’s mayor is intent on opening a low-barrier homeless shelter in his final year in office.
The shelter would provide beds for unhoused people including those with criminal records and substance abuse disorders.
At a meeting to discuss goals with city councilors Wednesday, Mayor G.T. Bynum said this is one of the reasons the city’s action didn’t reach all of its goals to address homelessness.
"If they had, we’d have a low-barrier shelter up right now, and we don’t. But do we need to spend more time identifying the problem? I don’t think so," Bynum told councilors.
Bynum said the city had to alter its request for proposal process for organizations who wanted to provide the facility. Two organizations currently have requests for proposal under consideration.
Bynum said the city will likely select one of them before the end of January.
"And then once we have them selected, we work with them to select a site, because we don’t want to go out picking a site and our service provider says they can’t work with them. But all of that, I mean, the goal — and I’ve been very clear with my team — is that we will have that open this calendar year," Bynum said.
The city has agreed to pay for the shelter for three years. Based on estimates, it would cost the city one and a half to two million dollars per year.
The low-barrier shelter is one of several recommendations from the city's housing, homelessness and mental health task force. Bynum said the city has around 25 goals related to homelessness, which he would like to be paid for with federal money to lessen the local burden.
The last point-in-time survey found more than 1,100 people were unhoused in Tulsa.