State's Only Homeless Resource Campus Opens In OKC

Thursday, August 25th 2011, 3:20 pm
By: News 9

LaShauna Sewell,

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City's homeless population now has a place to go during the day for food, shelter and information.

The Homeless Alliance has opened the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus, and it's been offering multiple services since May 6. The campus is located at N.W. 3rd Street and Virginia, and takes up an entire city block. If offers information on social services, and provides a safe place for the homeless population during the day.

Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dan Straughan says agencies serving the homeless are spread out across the city, so the organization worked for years to bring them together.

"It made sense just for efficiency's sake to co-locate those agencies in one place," said Straughan. "In addition, Oklahoma City hasn't had a day shelter for the homeless since Rest closed in 1997. That has two practical negative impacts. One is overnight shelters put people out during the day. As a consequence, we're perceived to have a larger homeless population than we actually do."

"The second piece of that is that the Norick Library downtown is sort of our de-facto day shelter. To their everlasting credit, they're very welcoming, but libraries are staffed by librarians and these folks need social workers and case managers."

Robert Tereck was laid off from his job in May. He, his wife and 12-year-old daughter were forced to live in his mother-in-law's garage. He learned about the resource campus from his pastor. After talking with social workers at the campus, he discovered he qualified for a housing voucher because he's a veteran. He and his family will soon move into an apartment.

"I know there are a lot of people out there that are in a similar situation that we're in," said Tereck. "And I think if they knew this Homeless Alliance was available to them, I think it would be a big help to them."

In addition to social services information, the resource campus also provides breakfast, lunch, showers and lockers. There's also a comprehensive medical and dental clinic, as well as a computer lab, library and barber.