The number of people living on the streets of Oklahoma City is at its highest level in recorded history, but a solution is on the way.
The city’s unsheltered homeless population rose by 47% last year. Now, a building near other already established services will soon become a safe place for 200 of them to rest their heads at night.
When the latest point-in-time count numbers came out six months ago, it was obvious that a low-barrier shelter was necessary, but the city had no way to make it happen.
“It’s not exactly easy,” says the city’s homeless programs planner Jerod Shadid. “It takes money. It takes a provider. It didn’t look like we had either one of those.”
Then a building went up for sale at the corner of General Pershing Boulevard and Villa Avenue. City Care jumped on the opportunity, garnering significant pledges from WW Steel and The Inasmuch Foundation.
City Care CEO Adam Luck believes this happened not through luck, but through faith.
“God was really just stirring in our hearts that we needed to pursue this,” he says, “and in a matter of weeks we felt like God just brought all these pieces together.”
The budget is not finalized yet, but the facility will include space for men, women, children and pets, as well as a healthcare ward. It opens this fall and City Care, which also operates the Homeless Alliance day center, plans to use many of the protocols they established there.
Luck says, “There’s a couple basic guidelines that we ask you to abide by when you come in, but on a basic level we say just come in.”
Shadid adds, “While we do have a count of about 400 on the street, convincing all those people to go to shelter is not always the easiest thing, so I think it’s actually going to make a pretty significant impact on the people who actually will go to a shelter.”
City Care is still looking for long-term donors and partnerships with hospitals to keep the shelter running for the foreseeable future. To connect with City Care, click here.