Work starts soon on Oklahoma City's new 200-bed homeless shelter. The city’s team spent about six months trying to figure out how they were going to pay for it, but some Good Samaritans demonstrating the Oklahoma Standard made it possible.
The city started working with City Care on solutions after 2018's Point-In-Time Count revealed nearly 50% more people were choosing the streets over shelter.
City Care CEO Adam Luck says, “The pitch was kind of, hey we’ve got to figure out how to raise the money to buy it, we’ve got to raise the money to build it out, and then we’ve got to raise significant amount of money long-term for this thing.”
The first pledged contribution came from W&W Steel CEO Rick Cooper, who offered to buy the warehouse at the corner of General Pershing Boulevard and Villa Avenue out right.
“My wife and I talked about it,” he says, “and it took about 15 seconds for us to decide to do this.”
Cooper does not want to reveal exactly how much he is spending, but he has a personal connection to the project after getting to know the people living outside his business at Reno Avenue and S Virginia Avenue.
“I’ve seen mostly men, some women, couples, but I’ve also seen families with small children,” he says. “You pretty much see everything; a lot of mentally ill people.”
Cooper wants these neighbors to have access to help. The shelter will provide space for men, women, children and pets, as well as emergency healthcare.
Cooper is not alone in his investment. The Inasmuch Foundation, started by journalist and philanthropist Edith Gaylord, is paying for all the construction.
“Homelessness is a key aspect of this foundation’s mission,” says Inasmuch Foundation CEO Bob Ross, “and of course Edith would be so pleased to know that we were supporting this effort.”
The facility is set to open in fall 2019, and will be designed to last for decades. The shelter will need continuing support once it is operational, but there are people on the street who have needs right now.
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