Shelter assists mentally ill, homeless

Saturday, March 29th 2008, 12:00 am
By: News 9

By Christian Price, INsite Team

Oklahoma City is home to one of only two shelters in the country that provides services for the mentally ill who are homeless.

Jesus House was established in 1973. The shelter also helps those who are homeless and chemically dependent.

"There's only one other shelter in the U.S. that does what we do as far as the mentally ill is concerned," Executive Director Janice Mercer said.

It cost about $1,000 dollars a month to operate the Jesus House because of their unique mission.

"It cost a little bit more to take care of the mentally ill because we didn't used to have to necessarily have licensed people, but we do now," Mercer said. "Their salaries are more. It's not just something a volunteer can do anymore."

The shelter depends on donations of all types to keep in operation.

"From can goods to clothes, we always need food, we always need food," Mercer said.

People tend to donate around special occasions, she said.

"That's lovely that everybody does that on the holidays," Mercer said, "But people are hungry 365 days a year. We're here 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. If people would just send us the price of a ticket to a ball game once a month, that would make a big difference."

William, a resident at shelter, said some things are limited at the shelter

"We can only do with what we got to work with," William said.

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