Homelessness

The CDC moratorium on evictions is ending Saturday, July 31st. At a press conference today, Eric Hallett, the coordinator of housing advocacy for Legal Aid Housing Services of Oklahoma, said next week is going to be a busy one in court.

“We have more than 60 cases on the docket Monday, more than 100 on Tuesday. Next week is going to be very hard on tenants in Tulsa. We probably have 300 families facing eviction next week,” said Hallett.

Tulsa Day Center

The city of Tulsa this week awarded the Tulsa Day Center a $100,000 grant to be used for a program seeking to provide rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness. 

Tulsa Public Schools

The White House announced Friday that Oklahoma will receive just under $10 million in funding under President Biden and Congressional Democrats' American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package meant to support students experiencing homelessness.

Night Light Tulsa

Nonprofits saved 400 Tulsans experiencing homelessness during February’s winter storms by getting them into hotel rooms.

Now, those same organizations are working to get those Tulsans into permanent housing in a matter of weeks, a process that typically takes two years.

Housing Solutions Tulsa

Becky Gligo, executive director of homelessness nonprofit organization Housing Solutions Tulsa, said responding to last week's stretch of life-threatening cold was an all hands on deck situation.

"We had about 30 people out 'round the clock for almost a week, bringing everybody who would go with them inside," Gligo said.

"Nobody, for about five straight days, had more than two hours of sleep at a time," Gligo said. "It was just constant, and the weather was extreme, and the pressure of knowing this was life or death was extreme."

Tulsa Food Not Bombs

A mutual aid group that has been providing assistance to Tulsans experiencing homelessness over the course of recent severe winter weather says the city of Tulsa is being disingenuous in their characterizations of an encampment and its residents. 

With several days of below freezing temperatures ahead, outreach teams are asking Tulsans for help caring for people experiencing homelessness.

Outreach teams representing multiple organizations are working day and night to transport people in need of shelter. For unhoused people choosing to shelter in place, they're distributing life-saving supplies.

Despite the pandemic-triggered federal moratorium on residential evictions, evictions do still happen in certain cases here in the Tulsa area. Why? Our guest is Prof. Roni Amit, who's with the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic at the University of Tulsa College of Law. This clinic, per its website, "addresses access to justice for marginalized communities in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the intersection of legal needs within these communities.

City of Tulsa

The City of Tulsa’s housing policy director is leaving that job to make an interim role permanent.

Becky Gligo has been picked as the executive director of Housing Solutions, the organization leading work to end homelessness by members of the A Way Home for Tulsa Coalition. She’s led Housing Solutions on an interim basis the past 10 months while also working at the city.

Google Maps Street View

The former juvenile justice center on Gilcrease Museum Road, which has offered daytime services for Tulsans experiencing homelessness since earlier this month, has expanded to offer overnight accommodations to those in need, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced Monday.

Rental Realities

This story was supported by grants from the Pulitzer Center, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Park Foundation. It was a collaboration by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, Big Local News at Stanford University, the University of Arkansas and Boston University.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, designed to stem evictions amid the pandemic fell flat when lawyers advised landlords the deal offering to pay owed rent was too risky.

Matt Trotter / KWGS News

City of Tulsa officials say that people experiencing homelessness who have set up encampments on West Archer Street will not be pushed to move until the opening of an emergency shelter in the former Juvenile Detention Center on Gilcrease Museum Road scheduled for next week.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City councilors approved on Wednesday more than $2 million in spending from Tulsa’s allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds from the state.

The bulk of the spending approved, $1.5 million, goes to support city efforts to help people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. That includes things like funding operations at the old juvenile justice center that’s been repurposed as a shelter and continuing to pay for hotel rooms for people who need to quarantine. Those are usually paid for out of other federal funds.

Tulsa Crime Stoppers

The Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa Crime Stoppers are discouraging Tulsans from giving cash to panhandlers, even as those experiencing homelessness may be more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There are thousands of organizations in this city with -- just wanting to help as much as possible," said TPD Maj. Mark Wollmershauser Jr., on a Tuesday virtual town hall organized by Tulsa Crime Stoppers also attended by city councilor Lori Decter Wright.

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.

Our guest is Terri White, who left her post as the Commissioner of Oklahoma's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services earlier this year. A well-respected expert on, and advocate for, all matters of mental health, White had been appointed Commissioner in 2007; she originally joined the Department in 2001. White joins us to discuss her new post, which will be serving as the CEO of the vital statewide nonprofit, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, which is based in Tulsa. She'll replace Mike Brose, who led MHAOK for some 27 years.

Google Street View

The former site of Tulsa County's Juvenile Justice Center has been repurposed and reopened as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Commissioner Karen Keith said 55 men are the first clients to stay in the facility beginning Monday. Tulsa Transit buses are being used to bring the men to the shelter, operated by homeless nonprofits including the Salvation Army and the Tulsa Day Center and funded through a public-private partnership including the City of Tulsa.

Google Maps

Tulsa’s old Juvenile Justice Center is being recommissioned.

It will serve as an emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have not had an uptick in people experiencing homelessness, but our current shelter system does not allow for physical distancing per the CDC recommendations," said City of Tulsa Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo.

Our guest is Michael Brose, the longtime Chief Empowerment Officer at Mental Health Association Oklahoma (or MHAOK). Brose joins us to discuss this important nonprofit's ongoing work to secure permanent housing for the homeless throughout our city and our state. Per the MHAOK website: "The Association's statewide work is dedicated to promoting mental health and the equity of access to mental health care through advocacy, education, research, service, and housing. Since 1955, we have worked toward this goal.

On this edition of our program, we offer an engaging conversatiuon with Deborah Hunter, a Behavioral Health Rehab Specialist and Case Manager at Family & Children's Services here in Tulsa. She's been with F&CS since 2011, and she is also a longtime and award-winning poet. Interestingly, Hunter also works as a social worker for the Tulsa City-County Library, mainly at the TCCL's Central Branch (and 5th and Denver).

Our guest on ST is Ren Barger, the founder and CEO of Tulsa Hub, which is, as noted at its website, "a syndicate of volunteers on a mission to change lives through cycling. It is the only nonprofit in Oklahoma providing certified bicycling-for-transportation education, refurbished bicycles, safety gear, and follow-up support to people in poverty, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people who are otherwise disenfranchised in our community.

On this installment of ST, our guest is Cameron Walker, the Executive Director of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity (or THFH). This crucial nonprofit recently received a $6.7 million grant from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, and therefore, as we learn on today's program, THFH is transitioning from building 25 to 30 houses per year (which is what it does in the Tulsa area currently) to building 150 houses per year (which is what it aims to be doing four years from now).

The transition from childhood to adulthood -- the adolescent and post-adolescent years, and all that go with them -- can be difficult, of course, for a host of reasons. Whether it's finding a job, finishing school, locating a place to live, discovering what one's goals really are, deciding on a career path, and so forth -- these can be trying experiences; relying on the aid of one's family and friends in such cases is paramount. But what if you're confronting these realities and you actually have no family? Or you have no "support network" of friends, mentors, and relatives?

On this edition of ST Medical Monday, we speak with two representatives from the Tulsa Housing Authority (or THA): Matt Letzig is the organization's Interim CEO and Terri Cole is its VP for Assisted Housing. THA, as noted at its website, "provides publicly assisted housing comprised of traditional public housing, mixed finance sites, and Section 8. Currently, THA provides assistance to more than 20,000 individuals, or 7,200 families....

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with Jeff Olivet, who is the President and CEO of the Boston-based Center for Social Innovation. Olivet is also a nationally recognized expert on homelessness, poverty, affordable housing, behavioral health, public health, and HIV -- and he'll be speaking about "Racism and Homelessness in America" at this year's National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, which happens here in Tulsa from today (the 28th) through Friday (the 30th) at the Cox Business Center downtown.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we listen back to a 2008 discussion with author and journalist Steve Lopez about his bestselling nonfiction account, "The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music." At that time, this book -- which explores themes of mental illness, homelessness, artistic inspiration, and creativity -- had just come out; it was later the basis for major motion picture of the same title.

In the 1960s, during the tenure of LBJ, a so-called "war on poverty" was decalred in the U.S. Could or should such a "war" be waged again, and if so, how would it fare? On this edition of StudioTulsa, and interesting discussion in that regard with David Grusky, who is the Barbara Kimball Browning Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. He's also the director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford, and he co-edits Pathways Magazine as well as Stanford's Studies in Social Inequality Book Series.

Iron Gate, a nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa, began operations nearly forty years ago. It's still based at Trinity, but it's a separate facility -- make that a separate and vitally important facility -- that has drastically outgrown its workspace. Iron Gate, actually located in the crowded basement of Trinity, has an on-site dining area meant to seat 127 people, yet the facility serves food to 500 or 600 hungry Tulsans every day of the year.

Our guest on this edition of ST is the locally based filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, who tells us about his latest feature, "Mekko." Most of this movie was shot in Tulsa, and it profiles a Native American ex-con (the film's title character) as he tries to rebuild his life after 19 years behind bars. Mekko has no home, no immediate family, and little cash -- so he soon ends up on the streets, where he's eventually taken in by Tulsa's homeless Native community.

Tulsa County Leaders Recognize Effort to End Homelessness

Aug 3, 2015
KWGS News

Tulsa County leaders recognize the effort to end homelessness in the area, especially among veterans. Several groups are involved in ‘Project Zero 2016’. Mike Brose is Director of Mental Health Association Oklahoma. He says in the first 30 days of the effort, 32 homeless veterans and 19 chronic homeless people were moved off the streets and out of shelters into permanent housing.

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