OKC Rolling Out New Plan To Address Homelessness

Tuesday, October 5th 2021, 5:31 pm
By: Karl Torp


Oklahoma City is rolling out its most comprehensive plan to address homelessness to date.

The last major plan was unveiled 17 years ago.

Now, after more than two years of strategizing and a pandemic delay, a new comprehensive plan with 24 strategies to get people off the streets was unveiled.

“It really looked at it from every angle,” said Lindsay Cates, Oklahoma City’s newly hired homeless strategy implementation manager.

Some strategies are not complicated at all.

“We need more case workers,” said Cates.

This will help promote available programs to the homeless.

Others would need changes in city code.

New zoning ordinances requiring developers to set aside a certain number of affordable housing units when building projects is now a goal.

“We don’t have the zoning ordinance that many cities our size do that require that,” Cates said.

Other ideas include allowing someone way behind on taxes to give up their property to the city.

The debt would be forgiven and the property turned into affordable housing.

Another strategy gets its cues from the MAPS 4 trusts being used to cover operating expenses of MAPS 4 projects.

Cates said organizations helping the homeless would also pool their funding in a trust.

The care would be more streamlined and reduce delays in services, she said.

Cates said Oklahoma City is looking at the success seen in Houston. That city was able to reduce its homeless population through similar programs.

Oklahoma City currently has about 1,600 people experiencing homelessness.