Imagine a bridge.
One side of it is rickety, precarious. The area on that side of the bridge is derelict, but most don’t know it because most don’t see it. It could be hidden by trees or dilapidated structures, or it could go unseen simply because so many people don’t know or care to look.
The other side of the bridge, though… The other side is bright, breezy – cheerful, even. The other side is stable. It is seen because people like to see it.
Now imagine that there are people living on the rickety side of the bridge, blending in with the debris. Feeling precarious. Feeling dilapidated. As hard as this is to picture, it is happening everyday in Oklahoma. In fact, this year’s Point in Time Count showed 1,446 individuals in Oklahoma City and 1,133 individuals in Tulsa who are experiencing homelessness.
National data indicates that the true homelessness count can be 4 to 5 times higher than what the annual survey reveals, which is to say that currently, there can be as many as 7,230 and 5,665 people experiencing homelessness in OKC and Tulsa, respectively.
This is why, at Mental Health Association Oklahoma, we were thrilled to read the proposal of HB 1031X, a bill that creates the Oklahoma Housing Stability Program, the Homebuilder Program, and the Oklahoma Increased Housing Program, each of which to be administered by the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). This $215 million appropriation incentivizes affordable housing construction, statewide.
The three programs would be a leap forward in this winnable fight to end homelessness, and as our Street Outreach teams continue to put their boots on the ground and walk people from one side of the bridge to the other, we are eager to support its passing.
Click here to for more information on HB 1031X.
Our Street Outreach teams are funded in part by the City of Oklahoma City and the City of Tulsa.