OKC Council Approves Outreach Program For People Experiencing Homelessness

Oklahoma City's City Council is teaming up with Mental Health Association Oklahoma to help end homelessness. 

Thursday, March 2nd 2023, 10:24 pm



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Oklahoma City's City Council is teaming up with Mental Health Association Oklahoma to help end homelessness. 

The City Council approved a one-year contract for a homeless street outreach program. This program will be an expansion of their current one, adding four case managers and two licensed mental health professionals to their teams.   

Every Wednesday you can catch the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma out and about engaging with our unhoused neighbors. 

“You know we’ve got 620 square miles in Oklahoma City and that is difficult for four people to reach. We are going to be able to help so many more people with this program,” said Shelah Farley, the Clinical Director for the Mental Health Association Of Oklahoma.  

The City council is lending them a helping hand with a one-year contract for a street outreach pilot program. 

“When you’re living outside, you’re in what we call survival mode so you are only worried about where you might sleep and what you might eat that day. Thinking about resources beyond that is really difficult to even think about,” she said. 

Farley said the additional funding will help them focus on housing, jail diversion, and alternatives to police response. 

In a statement Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley said, “At its core homelessness is not a police issue. Having a case worker respond to an unsheltered person rather than an officer in uniform can end with better results and frees officers up to respond to other matters.” 

“We are also going to be able to help our community partners like our police, our firefighters because we will be able to take on some of those calls that aren’t necessarily in their scope,” said Farley. 

Outpatient services will allow them to help people in different ways. 

“There is a lot of stigmas around mental health and going to a facility to receive mental health care and I think being able to bring that licensed professional to the area that someone lives, I think will give them a different feeling about it,” she said.

The contract from the city will give them $572,000 to implement these improvements.

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