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Resident expresses concerns about homeless camps in Tulsa

Posted at 1:04 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 02:04:28-04

TULSA, Okla. — In areas across Tulsa homeless camps are popping up and some residents are concerned.

The city is working with Housing Solutions of Tulsa said they are trying to address the issue, but said it's not a simple solution.

“Is that the black and white cat we were looking for?," Lynda Anderson, a resident from a neighborhood near 51st and Peoria said.

Anderson has lived there for nearly 30 years. She knows her neighbors. They are always there to lend each other a hand.

“We’re just a nice quiet family around here, and everybody knows everybody,” Anderson said.

But recently, she has noticed a difference, more and more of the city's homeless in the neighborhood.

“The business moved out, they broke out all the windows in that business, the owners come along and boarded up all of the windows. It’s not only dirty in front, but it’s dirty behind….just somebody needs to come help us," Anderson said.

Anderson said she has seen the homeless downtown, but never this close to her home.

“Several times, I’ve had to wait, for the homeless people pushing their buggies,” Anderson said.

She said she is concerned about her safety and that of her neighbors.

“People that don’t have a home, they scare me….You don’t know where they came from…so you don’t know, are they going to hurt you are they not going to hurt you,” Anderson said.

Anderson said she has called the city asking if someone could come and ask them to move.

“We need some help, the homeless people are gathering together, up in this strip mall that we have and they’re building homes out of cardboard and baskets they have stolen from the different stores,” she said.

The city is working with Housing Solutions Tulsa.

According to the latest data, there are more than one thousand people experiencing homelessness — about 500 of them unsheltered.

Tyler Parette with Housing Solutions said solving the problem is not that simple.

“That is a traumatic way for people to experience homelessness. The experience of homelessness is the experience of trauma every single day and so forcing people to just move to another location in town, it doesn’t do anything to help their situation and it just prolongs their experience of homelessness,” Parette said.

Parette said a lack of available housing also contributes to the problem.

“Just for March 2022, last month, 97 people were placed into permanent housing, but what you can also see up here, is that 277 people were new to homelessness in Tulsa County we see more people experiencing homelessness because of eviction and lack of affordable housing than we can house in any given month,” Parette said.

He said Tulsa's City Council has funded outreach and shelter initiatives, but there is still more collaboration to be done.

Meanwhile, Anderson is waiting or answers, hoping to see something change soon.

“She assured me something will be done," Anderson said.

Parette said the city recently hired a new Affordable Housing Policy Director. He said he expects to see new strategies from the city moving forward to increase affordable housing.

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