Mayor G.T. Bynum and the Community Service Council hosted more than 300 business, nonprofit, faith-based and community leaders at the A Way Home for Tulsa Strategic Planning Kickoff today. Event participants learned about various causes of homelessness before an interactive feedback session. The information gathered today, along with research, focus groups and other citywide feedback tools will guide Tulsa’s most comprehensive plan for preventing homelessness.
“If there is a city who has the potential to make great progress on it, it’s right here, in Tulsa,” said Mayor Bynum, “We have so much knowledge and passion and resources.”
The current number of people experiencing homelessness in Tulsa increased by 7 percent over the last 10 years and is now close to 6,000. Solutions require both immediate and long-term strategies to address the underlying causes. The Community Service Council, as the coordinating agency for 26 private and public partners in A Way Home for Tulsa (AWH4T), has hired a national consultant, Homebase, to create a strategic plan and economic investment pathway. Homebase will facilitate table discussions and reconvene the entire group to agree on a call to action. Information gathered will be used in developing the strategic plan.
The kickoff event provided information about the root causes of homelessness, with presentations from Mayor Bynum, Bill Major, Executive Director Reggie Ivey, Chief Operations officer with Tulsa Health Department and Tania Pryce, director of Youth Services and Chair for AWH4T.
150 different organizations were represented at the event; a strategic invitation to diverse sectors of the city.
“While I represent the philanthropic sector, I know that no one sector alone can prevent and end homelessness,” said Bill Major, Executive Director of the Zarrow Families Foundation, “It takes dedication and commitment from the entire community. That’s why I am here today. That’s why you are here today.”
Participants were asked three questions and feedback was gathered and shared live during the event; see response graphs below. In addition, participants were asked to make a personal commitment to the cause. Many participants share their commitments, and everyone shared digitally.
“My commitment is to continue my work on the board for the Day Center for the Homeless, as well as utilize my corporate network and colleagues to help find a solution for homelessness in Tulsa,” said Dan Eslicker, COO of D&L Oil Tools and AWH4T Strategic Plan Advisory Council Member.
Homebase will utilize today’s responses in developing the strategic plan. Citizens who could not attend today are invited to participate, learn more: www.CSCTulsa.org/awh4t-plan
- What are your highest priority concerns about homelessness in Tulsa?
- Lack of affordable housing was the top concern, followed by lack of mental health services and then high barriers to housing access.
- What changes do you want to see in Tulsa related to homelessness?
- Increased collaboration/coordination was the number one change; followed by increase safe, high quality, affordable housing and reduced barriers to employment/housing for ex-offenders.
- What strategies will work best in Tulsa?
- More short-term housing subsidies/Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) and improved transportation access received the top votes; followed by flexible funding pool to keep households from becoming homeless.