H-Net Express aids Oklahoma’s homeless

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 10:31 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Oklahoma City's homeless people are getting a lift. Free shuttle service to and from more than a dozen shelters and social service agencies, which, ultimately, should help them get off the street.

For many homeless people, mobility is limited; they can get as far as their feet will take them. But not anymore -- thanks to the Homeless Network Express.

The H-Net Express may not move at express speeds, but it takes care of express needs.

"He took me from City Mission over here, to Traveler's Aide so I could get some coupons, some passes to go to work," Marshall Wyche said.

Wyche is one in Oklahoma City's growing homeless population, a population that has limited transportation options.

"They're asking for bus passes, they're asking for help with gas, anything to get to medical care, to get a job interview, to counselors, to case management," Heide Brandes with the Salvation Army said.

The H-Net Express makes that a lot easier.

"All the stops on the route are designed for connecting homeless people to needed services," Susan Guerin said.

Guerin is with Healing Hands, a private non-profit that provides health care to the Homeless, and now operates the free shuttle, which, she says, fits well with their mission.

"Transportation is one of the big barriers for accessing health care services," Guerin said.

Other stops on the route include places like the VA Hospital, the Crisis Center, Jesus House, and City Rescue Mission. Homeless advocates said this will help.

"In a city like ours, where the fastest growing demographic of the homeless population is families with children, we really have an obligation to get those families up to the level of independence that they're going to be able to sustain on their own, and the bus just makes it a little bit easier to climb that ladder," Dan Straughn with the Homeless Alliance said.

The shuttle is funded with federal grant money and it runs Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.