OKC Counts Homeless, Charities Worry Problem Getting Worse

Thursday, January 27th 2011, 6:12 pm
By: News 9

Jon Jordan, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City's annual count of the city's homeless began Thursday, and local charities are worried budget cuts will hamper their ability to help people living on the streets.

The Homeless Alliance, the Coalition for the Needy and city government coordinated the volunteer teams who counted the homeless at shelters, encampments and various programs across the city. Case workers asked a list of questions and found the homeless problem isn't improving because of mental health issues and substance abuse.

Dan Straughan, the Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance, is reaching out to state and federal officials to try to ensure shelters and programs have the money they need to help the homeless.

"Things we could do better are mental health services and substance abuse services," said Straughan. "Between the two, those are the biggest contributors to homelessness."

The Oklahoma Department of Mental health and Substance abuse reported its budget cuts now total $25 million.