Mental Health Association Oklahoma Provides For Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness


Sunday, November 27th 2022, 10:24 pm

By: News 9, Feliz Romero


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Homelessness has been a big topic of conversation for Oklahoma City lately. Several organizations are having conversations about what they can do to help Oklahomans.

The Mental Health Association of Oklahoma said as many as 2.5 million young people experience homelessness every year.

So many Oklahomans know Joseph Trace Chapline’s story all too well.

“I was struggling with my mental health and then I ended up moving out of that apartment or getting kicked out, and experiencing homelessness for about six months,” he said.

Chapline experienced homelessness as a young adult when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up and his mental health plummeted.

"We follow what is called the ‘housing first model.’ We believe that housing is a basic human right that everyone deserves and it also just knowing you have a place to go to bed at night helps relieve that stress so you can focus on other things,” said Kayla Mills the Housing To Hope Youth Program Manager at the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

With help from SiSu, the Department Of Mental Health and the Mental Health Association Of Oklahoma Chapline was able to finish his education and get permanent housing.

“I’ve been able to get a job, be a part of an organization called the Youth Action Board which helps address problems of youth homelessness in Oklahoma City and just be able to overall better my mental health with this transitional living program,” he said.

The Mental Health Association is one of many organizations providing housing for 18 to 24-year-olds.

“Mental Health Association of Oklahoma rents apartment units throughout Oklahoma City so they are put in an apartment like any other kid their age might be living in. It really is that real-life experience of living on your own and learning how to take care of yourself,” said Mills.

The Housing for Hope Youth Program then pairs people with a case manager to help them with the life skills needed to sustain housing.

“We do extensive wrap-around case management to get the documentation, IDs, birth certificates, several of them right now trying to get driver’s licenses. We get them finishing high school or getting GEDs and then help with employment,” she said.

Their goal is that they end up like Chapline one day, living on their own happy and healthy.

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