Program launched to employ Tulsa's homeless population

TULSA -- A new program to offer homeless people employment was launched in Tulsa.

The City of Tulsa, Mental Health Association Oklahoma and the Tulsa Area United Way will all be a part of "A Better Way." 

The homeless will be offered a day's wage in exchange for beautifying the city.

A van will drive around in Tulsa to areas where homeless tend to congregate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to transport them to jobs.

"It’s not only a message to people panhandling that there is a better way, it’s also a message to our community there is a better way than handing money out of your car window to get people who we can actually do something for to hand people back the dignity," Michael Brose, CEO of Mental Health Association Tulsa, said at a press conference Wednesday.

The words "improving lives and our community" are on the front of A Better Way's van.

"We all I think in this crowd have the satisfaction of earning a paycheck every day, going to a job every day, doing something we love," District 8 Councilor Phil Lakin said at the press conference. "The people served through A Better Way will have the very same thing at the end of the day."

The program will partner with local businesses to provide employment to the homeless.

"While they’re working during the day, they provide lunch for folks," Mayor GT Bynum said. "At lunch, social service agencies come out and interview the participants and get them in the pipeline for the help they need."

They will be offered access to mental health and addiction treatment, housing and sustainable employment.

Tulsa will be one of the first cities in America to roll out a program like this. Mayor Bynum said he got the idea from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He and other leaders of the project traveled there and saw the success.

"Unless someone was intoxicated or almost physically incapacitated, almost every time they took up the city on the offer of that kind of work," Mayor Bynum said.

Mayor Bynum said they have conducted test runs and are still working out kinks. They will be out in the community on Friday.

A Better Way will be accepting donations for the program.

 

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