TULSA, Okla. — To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Tulsa volunteers take immunocompromised homeless off the street and into hotel rooms. After working the program for two months, they realize, it is more than a shelter from illness. The guests are given the opportunity to concentrate on finding their very own permanent homes.
“I was scared. I didn't know if someone was going to try to hurt me. I didn’t know where I was going to take a bath,” Janna Williams said.
Williams became homeless in October after losing her job.
“I hit a rough spot, but I’m coming back up,” Williams said. “Every day, I take a step forward,” with direction from the City Lights Foundation of Oklahoma.
“Instead of just having to survive, they’re able to thrive in this environment,” said City Lights Executive Director, Sarah Grounds.
For the past two months, a hotel on the east side of Tulsa is strictly for homeless guests.
Grounds said, “Everybody here is experiencing homelessness and this is where they can shelter in place. It's our most vulnerable people here in Tulsa that have nowhere else to go.”
65 people stay at the hotel. 15 have transitioned out into permanent housing.
Williams is next. She believes she would still be walking up and down Archer Street, had she not been connected to Grounds.
“I just want to feel like I’m established again," Williams said. ”I feel very comfortable here, but I know this is not my permanent home. This is just a passing place for me.”
Even after she leaves, Williams wants to come back as a volunteer.
“I’m going to give back what they gave to me,” Williams said.
City Lights Hotel launched in May. Their contract ends in August, but hope for an extension.
There is a waiting list for anyone wishing to be helped by the program. The hotel is currently at capacity. Those without a home and who are at high-risk if contracted with coronavirus can speak with their caseworker to get connected to the foundation.
Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate can contact City Lights Foundation online or by phone at 918-280-9640
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