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City leaders announce new plan to tackle homelessness

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, center, flanked by other city leaders during a press conference on April 9, 2024.
Ben Abrams
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, center, flanked by other city leaders during a press conference on April 9, 2024.

Tulsa is looking to further its efforts to address the city's homelessness problem.

At a press conference Tuesday at City Hall, Mayor G.T. Bynum was joined by other city leaders to announce the "Path to Home" project, the latest initiative from Tulsa’s government to get more homeless individuals off the streets.

Bynum said the initiative is “a total of 33 actions and four overarching goals to further our work” on the issue. Those goals include building more affordable housing, early intervention for Tulsans on the verge of homelessness, and enforcing right-of-way laws to criminalize encampments.

Homelessness is by no means a new issue in Tulsa. The most recent Point-in-Time Count from Housing Solutions, taken in January, showed nearly 1,500 people without homes in the city.

Mayor Bynum acknowledged progress addressing this issue has been slow.

“For our fellow Tulsans who are frustrated by the pace of change, I’d just tell you: we’re frustrated, too,” he said. “We can’t control every factor out there that’s causing homelessness, but we can control what we as a city government do in response to that.”

Regarding criminalizing right-of-way obstructions, Bynum was firm on removing the sight of “tent cities” and emphasizing Tulsa is a “city of standards.”

Speaking to KWGS after the press conference, Mayor Bynum also said the city will be more deliberate about where it places affordable housing, being sure not to concentrate it all in just a few locations. Bynum cited the 61st and Peoria area as a “great example” of permitting too many multi-family housing units too close together.

Bynum also said he wants the city to better communicate with neighbors about placement of new housing. A recent plan for new townhomes in Highland Park was tanked after residents complained.

“A lot of the time, investors want to build and neighbors get unnecessarily pitted against one another,” he said.

The initiative grew out of Tulsa City Council’s 3H Task Force to study homelessness.

“This is a team effort for the city of Tulsa,” said City Councilor Jeannie Cue.

The city has launched a webpage to educate the public about the program, which you can find here.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.