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Hundreds of homeless Tulsans could be punished after SCOTUS decision

Homelessness Crisis now is turning into a punishment
Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 28, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — As homelessness continues here in Tulsa, hundreds if not thousands can be punished for having nowhere else to go.

The Tulsa Day Center Director Mack Haltom asked this question after a six to three Supreme Court decision was made to ban homeless people from sleeping on public property.

"Where are they going to go?"

It's a question many will be asking after a decision favoring the city of Grant Pass, Oregon. It would allow police to punish homeless people for sleeping on public property.

2 News Oklahoma showed you back in April around 1,400 Tulsans are living on the streets due to mental health issues, and a lack of affordable housing.

New Data Shows More Homeless on Tulsa Streets

Now, it can become a crime. Matt Zingler has lived in Tulsa for 23 years. He said it's a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

"It's a complicated issue so like I said it really comes down to legislation and facility that can be provided by the state for it," Zingler said.

We went to the Tulsa Day Center, it's an outreach facility for the homeless. Director Mack Haltom said it's overcrowded – but having law enforcement would complicate things more.

"Supposedly law enforcement will give them the opportunity to go to a shelter, whatever, the ironic thing about bringing them to a shelter is if they don't do that they are going to ticket them or possibly 15 to 30 days' worth of jail," said Haltom.

Now Tulsa is trying to get people off the streets through multiple organizations, most recently we told you about 36th North.

Previous coverage>>> 'North Tulsa's been under-resourced': Affordable housing project breaking ground

City leaders said this multi-use complex is the largest affordable housing investment in Tulsa's history. Haltom did mention the center is receiving funds

'They did give money towards, funnel money towards services," Haltom said.

We reached out to the city of Tulsa; they did send us a statement that said the Court simply isn't criminalizing homelessness but rather just applying laws for everybody.

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