Number of Tulsans Experiencing Homelessness Relatively Flat from 2019 to 2020

Jul 16, 2020

Army veteran Josh Butts' mural in the Tulsa Arts District, painted in 2018, depicts a homeless veteran pushing a shopping cart filled with items representing causes of homelessness.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

The number of Tulsans experiencing homelessness stayed relatively flat from last year to this year.

The annual point-in-time count identified 1,221 people living on the street, in shelters, or in safe haven and transitional housing, about 3% more than in 2019.

Housing Solutions Tulsa Director of Data and Analytics Erin Willis said contrary to claims about other places putting people on a bus to Tulsa, 71% of people became homeless in Oklahoma, and 51% lived in Tulsa County when they did.

"These are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are our coworkers, and we have a duty and a calling to serve them and help them out of homelessness as quickly as possible so that they can get back to thriving in our community," Willis said.

Many Tulsans who are homeless continue to struggle with mental health, have a physical disability or report substance abuse. About 8% of Tulsans experiencing homelessness deal with all three.

"Which doesn’t seem like a significant percentage until you understand over the past six years, that’s been an increase of 53%. If we continue on this trend, that’s really scary," Willis said.

Willis said the trend highlights the need for more services like treatment and counseling. The point-in-time count also found domestic violence was the direct cause for about 33% of Tulsans who are homeless.

Tulsa’s annual point-in-time count was conducted the night of Jan. 23 through the morning of Jan. 24, so it does not take into account affects of the coronavirus pandemic. The count helps bring federal funding to the community.