TULSA—Funding for work to end homelessness in Tulsa received a 2 percent increase from the U.S. Department of Housing and Homelessness (HUD) in its annual award last week. While the work of the Continuum of Care, known locally as A Way Home for Tulsa and coordinated by the Community Service Council, is far from complete it is not only being recognized, but the collective work has been rewarded with an increase in funding.
The HUD Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grants inject $2.67 million into the Tulsa economy in the form of awards to five of the 23 area nonprofit organizations that make up A Way Home for Tulsa. The agencies receiving HUD funding are: Community Service Council, Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Volunteers of America, and Youth Services of Tulsa. The Community Service Council (CSC) serves as the lead agency for A Way Home for Tulsa.
A Way Home for Tulsa, the collective of 23 organizations focused on preventing and ending homelessness, prioritized its funding request using a mix of local needs, research-driven approaches, and performance data. These grants are used to quickly re-house individuals, families, and youth and provide needed support services while hoping to decrease the trauma caused by homelessness and increasing opportunities for self-sufficiency.
“These grants will support existing rapid re-housing and supportive housing programs, the infrastructure for our community-wide planning and the Homeless Management Information System,” said Greer Fites, director of homeless services, Family and Children’s Services, and the 2018 A Way Home for Tulsa (AWH4T) chairperson. “The issues that lead to homelessness are widely varied—poverty, domestic violence, abuse, medical conditions that drained financial resources, legal problems and more. Because of these varied needs, a diverse team of players are needed to address them. AWH4T and participating organizations are committed to solving this problem.”
“At its core, homelessness is a lack of housing pure and simple,” said Patrice Pratt, CSC division director for housing and homelessness. “At CSC, it’s our core belief that housing is a basic human right and by providing housing-focused interventions and solutions we can save lives and strengthen our community.
“Our results show that folks with the most severe mental illness, substance disorders and chronic health conditions can be helped most effectively by first getting a roof over their heads then following up with individualized support services to improve their quality of life and increase opportunities for self-sufficiency,” Pratt said.
These successes mean AWH4T-funded grants utilize Housing First, an approach that focuses on quickly providing people with appropriate housing regardless of possible barriers such as mental illness or substance use and wrapping support services around the individual.
Annual Point-in-Time Count is January 25
HUD requires all Continuums of Care communities to conduct an annual “Point-in-Time” count of the homeless in their communities. Tulsa will take its annual count beginning the evening of Thursday, Jan. 25.
The Community Service Council will coordinate the annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count with AWH4T partner agencies. The PIT is a survey and count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in a community. These counts are used locally to assess needs, evaluate progress and planning, as well as reported to the U.S. Congress to aid policy making.
“Tulsa is unique in that we go beyond the HUD PIT requirement of gathering demographic questions such as age, gender and race and inquire about what services people need and use and how long they’ve been homeless,” said Mack Haltom, associate director, Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. “The PIT really helps us assess the current situation and plan for the future.”
On Jan. 25, the A Way Home for Tulsa Coordinated Outreach Teams will be reaching out to unsheltered individuals in encampments, abandoned buildings and to those on the street. Other staff and volunteers at the shelter, jail and inpatient treatment facilities will survey those sheltered individuals. Another opportunity arises the following morning on Jan. 26th when Iron Gate, soup kitchen and grocery pantry, opens for breakfast. Those not previously counted are then given an opportunity to participate in the count.
“We know that having reliable local data on those experiencing homelessness not only supports policy and planning but it can play a critical role in our community’s ability to gain public and private support for real solutions,” Pratt said. “This data gives us the opportunity to assess our current state and plan for the future,” Fites said.
The Community Service Council plans to publish the 2018 PIT results mid-March. Donations for the PIT street count are coming from several organizations, including the American Red Cross and Loops of Love who are providing warm blankets, heater meals, hats and socks and other needed necessities.
A Way Home for Tulsa Governance Council
- 12 & 12
- City of Tulsa
- Community Service Council
- Counseling & Recovery Serv. of OK
- Dayspring Villa
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Family & Children’s Services
- Iron Gate
- John 3:16 Mission
- Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
- Mental Health Association of Oklahoma
- Morton Comprehensive Health Services
- Participant Advisory Group
- Restore Hope
- Salvation Army
- Tulsa County Social Services
- Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless
- Tulsa Housing Authority
- Volunteers of America
- Youth Advisory Board
- Youth Services of Tulsa