‘This Is Important:’ How Shift In Public Opinion Helps OKC Improve Homelessness

Oklahoma City homelessness advocates say the community is shifting priorities to solve homelessness. Community agencies, nonprofits, and stakeholders have worked to create more affordable housing options within the city.

Monday, December 4th 2023, 10:23 pm

By: News 9, Jordan Fremstad


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Oklahoma City wants to get more people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. Last week, MAPS4 began its first phase of affordable housing improvement.  

A change in public perception has led to more conversations about the unsheltered population. City leaders said this creates strong partnerships to lift people out of homelessness. 

“This is important enough that we need to look at it as a community,” said Lindsay Cate, homeless strategy implementation manager for Oklahoma City. If the Oklahoma Standard means helping people in need people like Cates believe this includes people with no home. “There were twenty-four strategies to address homelessness here in Oklahoma City,” said Cates, about city initiatives laid out in 2019. 

The start -- is affordable housing. “We know affordable housing is crucial and we’re really excited that with MAPS4 our community has said investment needs to be there,” Cates said. 

Last week, MAPS4 announced a plan to turn a Bricktown Motel into a place for people experiencing chronic homelessness. “The community has come to the realization that somebody has to do this,” said Dan Straughan, executive director at the Homeless Alliance. 

Straughan said the day the city approved OKC’s first permanent winter shelter – he noticed something. “No protesters – no protesters,” Straughan said.  

For Straughan, this was a shift in public response. “I literally got calls from Tulsa and from Norman and from Wichita saying, ‘How did you do that?’” Straughan said. 

Oklahoma’s street magazine Curbside Chronicle creates thousands of positive interactions with people experiencing homelessness. “That has helped people see that, that guy standing on the street corner is a human being,” Straughan said. Somebody’s brother, somebody’s father, son.”

Relatable stories produce understanding -- and teamwork drives the Oklahoma Standard home. “Communities are stronger when they figure out a solution together,” Cates said. 

Cates said they have a lot of work to do. However, they permanently housed seventeen people right before Thanksgiving thanks to those community partnerships.

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