Police say one part of downtown Oklahoma City is much safer. Crime rates have fallen drastically, where assaults and burglaries used to be common.
The President of the City Rescue Mission told News 9 the one block area around the mission used to be a place where drug dealers, transients, and criminals would come to cause trouble. But all that has changed during the past three years.
"There's no reason for them to come hang out here anymore, because there's no business," stated Tom Jones, president and CEO of the City Rescue Mission.
Jones is a former pastor whose own father was homeless when he passed away. Jones took over the City Rescue Mission in 2007.
You will still find transients roaming the block around the City Rescue Mission today. But Jones says the drug dealers and troublemakers that used to follow are slowly disappearing. Instead, he says people come here to break free of their addictions.
"In 2008, we kicked off a program called ‘Bridge to Life,' which is now the state's largest free drug and alcohol recovery program," said Jones. "It's a place where those individuals who have found themselves in despair, who are struggling with addiction, can come and get the help that they need to overcome those addictions."
Jones says both the Bridge to Life program and their partnership with police have made a real impact on the crime rate around the mission.
"I knew that in order for us to make a difference down here we needed a collaboration between us and the Oklahoma City police," said Jones. "That way, we are on the same team working towards the same goals and objectives."
During the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, the number of calls OKC police received for the one block radius around the mission dropped by more than 47 percent. Total crimes for the quarter mile around the City Rescue mission also dropped during the same three year period.
That makes mothers like Sunni Vanisko feel safe enough to stay here.
"I feel safe outside the building," said Sunni Vaniski, who lives at the City Rescue Mission. "I would walk out here anywhere, even at night it doesn't bother me."
This year, the City Rescue Mission bought the brick building right across the street, which soon will become the men's center, which will free up room for more women, children and families at their main building and keep the two buildings separate for added safety.