Tulsa, OKC Eyed as Proving Grounds for Supportive Housing Programs

Jan 11, 2019

Nonprofits are looking at Tulsa and Oklahoma City for a new program aimed at curbing youth homelessness.
Credit Wikimedia

A demonstration to launch this summer will help Oklahoma youth transition from state custody to permanent housing.

Several groups will come together to get them into a supportive housing model — affordable housing where they are also connected with social and health services. Robert Friant with the Corporation for Supportive Housing said it’s easy for youth leaving foster care or the juvenile justice system to get caught in a cycle of homelessness, mental illness and prison.

"Breaking this revolving door while a person is young is key to preventing adult homelessness and reoffending. It also benefits the wider community in the form of lower costs for healthcare, jails and homelessness response," Friant said.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City are being evaluated for the demonstration period. The focus will be on youths 17 and older leaving the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

"We work hard to provide care and services to these youth when they’re in our custody, but when they transition out of our care to become independent, sometimes it’s a very challenging network of services and programs to access," said Cross Sector Innovations founder Ed Long.

For now, the program is privately funded. The Corporation for Supportive Housing and Cross Sector Innovations have received grants from the Arnall Family Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service, but a pay-for-success contract with the state is in the works.

"If we say we want to reduce costly jail stays and we want to do it by a certain percentage over a quarter or a certain number over a quarter, then we stick to those metrics. So, even if there’s some success but it’s not at the threshold that we agreed upon up front, then the government pays nothing," Long said.

A planning survey done by the Governor's Interagency Council on Homelessness found the transition to permanent housing has been problematic. Of the nonprofits, state workers and advocates responding, 56 percent rated the transition from the child welfare system to permanent housing as "fair" or "poor." For the juvenile justice system, 58 percent rated the transition as "fair" or "poor."