On the drive back to the apartment, I heard a conversation on the radio about our city’s plan that is in effect to end homelessness.
In my purview of things, as is likely with many Oklahomans, when the government says they’re going to work to end homelessness, its just a gov’t PR person making promises that end up being just words.
But after examining the report, I found a different story: OKC has been on the attack against homelessness since 2004 when the city council adopted the “Homes for the Homeless – 10 Year Plan to Create Lasting Solutions.”
From the report (Found at http://www.homelessalliance.org/10YearPlanUpdateFinal.pdf):
“The plan, reviewed and updated annually, included the
following key goals:
-increase the supply of Permanent Supportive Housing; develop a centralized intake center (WestTown Resource Center)
-improve transportation for homeless persons
-develop and enforce minimum standards for all shelter and housing programs;
-create a database (Homeless Management Information System)
-implement performance-based funding and evaluation of service providers
-expedite benefits enrollment for all
eligible homeless persons.
All of the action steps outlined in the plan were undertaken
simultaneously and re-evaluated on an annual basis to maintain momentum and make adjustments.”
A few more highlights:
-“Improvement in discharge planning protocols at Griffin Memorial has led to fewer persons with serious mental illness being released to the street or shelters from the hospital.
-Heartline’s 2-1-1 service provides information to an average of 6,000 direct callers per month for referrals to needed services and shelter and also assists in emergency response to disasters.
-1,000 families at risk of losing their housing have been helped with utility assistance from the Salvation Army.
-The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in
conjunction with the Department of Corrections, created Mental Health Reentry Teams that have helped house and support 93 mentally ill individuals who were at great risk of homelessness after being released from prison. None
of the 93 have become homeless or had to return to prison and all were preapproved for federal benefits.”
The words “End homelessness” strike a tone of having a goal that is seemingly possible to accomplish, especially in a city that is growing as fast as OKC is. With a growing city comes a larger population and an even more desperate homeless situation.
But I am optimistic that the efforts of the city to “end homelessness” will at least put us in the right direction and help to ease the burden of many of the homeless persons in our city.
Kudos to Mayor Cornett and the City Council for striving to better our city.