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Former senior living facility will serve as new low barrier shelter

Low Barrier Shelter facility
City of Tulsa New logo
Nicholas McCorey, Homeless Tulsan
Posted at 8:42 PM, Jun 29, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The City of Tulsa selected the location for a low barrier housing facility.

A former senior living center has sat vacant for nearly 20 years will be transformed into a shelter and care facility. Housing Policy Director Travis Hulse said it was an extensive search across the city to find the perfect location.

"People will have a way to live and have access to their own almost apartment," said Hulse. "They'll have their own kitchen, their own bathroom facility, kind of their own private living area. So that will be great, because it gives people that dignity, that type of environment, that will allow them to stabilize, and then find that next permanent housing option."

The property, located off Mohawk Park Dr. and E. 39th St., will be leased by the city.

Hulse said they were looking for something they didn't have to build from the ground up. Since it's been sitting empty since 2008, the facility will need some work.

“Just some minor repairs, things that need to be done," he said. "The owner of the site was already starting to work on the facility... I think it just kind of worked out timing wise, to be able to make it so it’s open before the end of the year.”

It's people like Nicholas McCorey that the city hopes to help. He's been homeless since his divorce, and has struggled to find permanent housing.

“I think this city is one of the best cities for the homeless population, because back in Oregon, it’s nothing compared to all the resources you have here," said McCorey. “Coming here, it was easier for my mental health and knowing they had resources, otherwise I’d be sleeping in my car.”

The shelter will be further out than other resources for the homeless population. That concerns McCorey.

"Location, getting out there, I think that’s going to be the biggest struggle for many people," said McCorey. "If there's no stores nearby... It would have to be within a mile walking distance."

2 News asked Hulse how people would get to the shelter.

"They’ll have case managers who can provide the transportation services to people who live there," said Hulse. "We’ll also be working with our public transportation agencies to make sure that people have access to grocery stores, to jobs, to school.”

As a low barrier shelter, there wouldn't be any reason a person would not be allowed to live there. Whether it be a criminal history, drug abuse issues, or having a pet, all people will be welcome here.

“The day center is the only one that allows service animals or pets, that would be a nice option," said McCorey. "But you just mentioned abuse situations, that would be a good one, because it’s further out, it could be more private. My situation, coming from an abuse background, we don't want to be out very often. We try to avoid, in case we run into someone."

The idea, Hulse said, is to give people the independence and resources they need to put them on a track toward permanent housing and stability in roughly four months.

"The City Lights team will be working with other partners throughout the community to bring those services to the facility, so that people don't have to leave," said Hulse. "Try to provide as many of those resources as we can on site, but otherwise, work with our partners to provide those resources and transportation to and from."

This shelter is a referral-based facility with individual apartments and rooms. It's designed to help those in need who historically struggled to get service at other facilities.

Mayor Bynum announced committee to target housing concerns in 2022.

"We have to get to a place where more Tulsans can get the resources they need to find permanent housing," Mayor G.T. Bynum said. "After an extensive search and an evaluation of more than 50 different potential sites in every area of our city, this location makes the most sense in terms of the space and reconfiguration needed, and we are eager to get it operational later this year."

What is the Residential Care Center and what does it provide:

  • Referred-based facility
  • Individual apartments
  • Medical services
  • 24-hour staff and security

What the Residential Care Center is not:

  • It is not a walk-up facility
  • It is not a nighttime-only facility
  • It is not a communal living space
  • It is not a mental crisis facility

Upon opening, the center will provide temporary housing for individuals and families who need services and support to return to permanent homes.
"This is not a facility where you walk up and you come in at night and have a place to stay and you leave in the morning," said Hulse. "This is a place to live and be and have a room until you've found a permanent housing solution."

The City Lights Foundation of Oklahoma is going to operate the facility and case management program.

Its main goal is to resolve the root cause of homelessness and help prepare participants for permanent housing within 120 days of entering the program.

After they renovate the space, the low barrier shelter is slated to open by the end of 2024.

Click here to learn more about the care center.

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