A Way Home For Tulsa
As Tulsa has grown, so has the scope of homelessness. It’s didn’t occur overnight. A series of social, fiscal and policy decisions over many years have contributed to today’s homelessness challenge. The exact numbers are hard to determine, but we know on average each night there are 525 individuals sleeping in Tulsa shelters (Source: Homeless Management Information System). It is also estimated that there are just over 6,000 unique individuals experiencing homelessness in Tulsa over the course of the last twelve months (January 2013 Tulsa Point In Time Count Survey Results).
Homelessness is a complex problem that results from a number of complicated issues. Homelessness can affect anyone. It has many faces: a family with small children whose household income can’t afford rising bills and rent, an individual with mental illness, addition or chronic physical illness who needs treatment, a disabled adult with special needs and few resources, a veteran who experienced trauma, or dealing with moral or traumatic brain injury, a victim of family violence or abuse, who can’t go home, a youth who’s aged out of foster care or no longer has a home. Those experiencing homelessness are all our fellow Tulsan’s. Each should have a place to call home, and access to the supports and services that will help them keep that home.
The A Way Home for Tulsa Collaboration of nineteen community organizations, supported by the Community Service Council (CSC), brings a coordinated effort and great opportunity to ending long-term homelessness in our community. Representation on the A Way Home for Tulsa Governance Council includes an array of diverse expertise and resources that provides a unique capacity to address the many complex issues surrounding individuals experiencing long-term homelessness. Leadership from all the participating agencies are actively engaged, and are facilitating real change within their own organizations to best support the A Way Home for Tulsa Integrated and Coordinated Case Management “Pathways” Program, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded Homeless Management Information System and Continuum of Care Programs. Leadership from participating agencies continually work towards improving the performance of their respective agencies in meeting the challenges related to the most difficult homeless situations.
The Collaboration works in accord with agreed upon charter, mission, philosophy, values, and guiding principles, as well as the formalized Conditions of Provider Participation. Participating agencies include: Community Service Council, The Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Volunteers of America, Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Counseling and Recovery Services of Oklahoma, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Family and Children’s’ Services, The Salvation Army, John 3:16 Mission, Tulsa County Social Services, Youth Services of Tulsa, Abba’s Family, Tulsa Housing Authority, 12 & 12, Inc., Domestic Violence Intervention Services /Call Rape, Morton Comprehensive Health Care Services, Day Spring Villas, Crossroads, and the OU School of Community Medicine, Medical Informatics.
The A Way Home for Tulsa Collaboration and the Community Service Council successfully launched the Integrated and Coordinated Case Management program "Pathways" on May 2, 2012 with Assertive Outreach and Engagement targeting individuals experiencing homelessness the longest or Tulsa's Top 100. Over the next two years their goal is to reach at least 100 of the targeted most challenging long-term homeless individuals. After twelve months of implementation the program has actively worked with 33 participants 81% of which are no longer sleeping on Tulsa’s streets or in shelters but are living in homes of their own in the Tulsa community, working everyday towards improving self sufficiency and quality of life. By the end of 2013 the Collaboration anticipates expanding the program to 75 participants and will be moving closer to the two year projected timeline of 100 by end of May 2014.
Recently, the A Way Home for Tulsa Collaboration Governance Council unanimously approved to build upon its current success and knowledge and expand its scope from a single focus on ending long term homelessness to a system-wide planning initiative focused on ending homelessness. Over the last year the Governance Council often has worked with other local groups on addressing this larger goal that requires major system changes affecting both the Pathways Program and the much larger array of work on reducing homelessness. It now will work with CSC in developing an expanded structure for this new planning effort. The effort will facilitate a broader discussion that includes outreach and engagement, encampments, faith community involvement, lack of funding or payor sources, coordination and collaboration to access Federal, State and local funding, access to health and specialty care, transitional and permanent housing, including availability, access, affordability and sustainability. Focus is on finding new and creative solutions, increasing access to affordable transitional and permanent supportive housing and improving coordinated action, based on a more thoughtful and intentional review of the current system.
This expanded scope of the Collaboration to include community is driven by the recent convergence of the following circumstances: new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD regulations calling for enhanced local planning infrastructure with additional requirements, yet minimal planning dollars; the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency new dedication of 120 Housing Choice Section 8 Vouchers with an estimated value of $500,000 annually; the expiration of the City of Tulsa’s 2012 Strategic Plan to End Homelessness and the City’s need for an updated 2013 Consolidated Plan; the renewed interest of private and public stakeholders, especially related to downtown and other areas of development; the increasing homelessness among children and its effects on their health and education; and the growing acknowledgement that our ultimate success in ending very costly long term homelessness is more and more dependent on improving the system as a whole.
This enhanced planning role for Tulsa is critically needed to assure the community continues to receive almost 2.5 million dollars in federal support through the Continuum of Care Program to provide an array of assistance for Tulsa’s homeless. The A Way Home for Tulsa Governance Council would like to thank the Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) and other local private foundations and philanthropists for their support. A Way Home for Tulsa would not have reached the level of success it has without consistent commitment from a broad funding base. Please consider how you can support A Way Home for Tulsa Collaboration in the goal of ending homelessness in our community. For more information, please contact Patrice Pratt at the Community Service Council, 918-699-4236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.