Oklahoma City Taking New Approach To Homelessness

Tuesday, August 10th 2021, 6:37 pm
By: Karl Torp


Oklahoma City will soon start a more direct approach when dealing with panhandlers.

The city is following a model seen across the country.

This is a program that brings jobs to the panhandlers. The hope is that it could lead to helping them with other resources.

“It’s become a more noticeable situation in Oklahoma City,” Assistant City Manager Aubrey McDermid said about seeing panhandlers around OKC.

But a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico revealed how successful it’s “A Better Way” program to address panhandlers has been.

“Something is happening in Albuquerque that’s right,” McDermid said, who told News 9 she didn’t see any panhandlers when visiting the city of nearly 600,000 people.

Albuquerque started its “A Better Way” program in 2016.

A van goes to panhandlers offering a day's work, a meal and a lift to the job site.

Tulsa adopted the program three years ago.

OKC expects to have an "A Better Way" van in service three days a week starting in the fall.

“It will be going to places where there have been known panhandlers and asking if they'd like to have a job doing community beautification for the day,” McDermid said.

"A Better Way" could lead homeless residents to other resources.

“It really helps someone on a one-on-one basis over the course of however long it takes to get a leg up,” McDermid said.

The annual cost is about $270,000.

Oklahoma City is working with the United Way, The Inasmuch Foundation and the Regional Food Bank to offset a lot of the cost.