A Tulsa nonprofit is working to help the city’s homeless population navigate the pandemic.
In almost eight weeks, the number of people the City Lights Foundation has been able to get into more steady housing is up 500%.
Sarah Grounds, the Executive Director for the City Lights Foundation of Oklahoma, said COVID caused an increase in evictions, which increased first-time homelessness.
Since April, more than 100 people have sheltered at the foundation's hotel, while another 45 have used shelters around town. The foundation has also provided 31 people with permanent housing.
"That accounts for 71 years of homelessness cumulative for all of them,” Grounds said.
Funding from the CARES Act makes their operation possible, along with help from donors.
"It's for this program, City Lights Hotel, and then it does help us to establish housing for our residents,” Grounds said.
Grounds said restaurants provide the meals which volunteers will help deliver to residents at the hotel.
"It's been very stressful this year, mostly for those who are out living out in the street,” Harvey Dry said.
As a former addict who lived on the street, Dry enjoys volunteering at the nonprofit, providing clothing, food, and if needed, help at the hotel.
“There are so many needs and it's going to take all of us to get through this,” Grounds said.
The nonprofit said the CARES Act will provide them funding until January 2021. To help support the nonprofit, visit the website here.