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"An affordable housing crisis right here in Tulsa," Homeless Tulsan shares experiences

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 12:07:15-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Way Home For Tulsa released Tulsa’s 2024 Point in Time Count results, showing more than 1,400 homeless people living in the city.

The PiT Count occurs one January night when teams from A Way Home For Tulsa partner agencies disperse across the city and meet with those on the streets. This year's count across Tulsa County found a 5% reduction in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness since last year, but about 300 more individuals reported homelessness.

WATCH: 2 News was there when the PiT count began:

Point-in-Time count

Chair Ginny Hensley said there's a lot of good this data shows, but also sheds light on what this community needs.

“This year’s Point in Time Count tells me that the work that the A Way Home For Tulsa partner agencies are doing is working,” said Hensley. "We saw an uptick in individuals who are taking advantage of shelter beds, and so that’s also a positive; it points to the need for more of those shelter beds in our community.”


Hensley attributes the increase in those surveyed to an improved process for the PiT Count, allowing them to reach more individuals on the designated night.

Those surveyed gave a variety of reasons for their experience, from a loss of income to mental health issues, even domestic violence. However, one variable trumped them all.

“We are truly experiencing an affordable housing crisis right here in Tulsa,” said Hensley. “The Tulsa Housing assessment that was conducted last year revealed that over the next ten years, Tulsa as a community will need to invest 245 million dollars per year over the next ten years to meet the demand.”


Hensley said she believes the housing crisis is contributing to 73% of those surveyed saying they first experienced homelessness in Tulsa.

“We simply have to create more housing—specifically affordable housing, but truly housing across the entire income spectrum,” said Hensley. "That is why we're seeing these increases, and it’s only going to get magnified if we don’t address that problem now.”

Another reason listed in the data: relationship breakdowns, which Grace Marley experienced herself.

"Having your family turn away from you," is the hardest part, she said, "So you really don’t have anyone to rely on but yourself."

While progress is identified in this year's survey, Hensley said it also points her and her team to where more resources need to be invested.


The Tulsa Housing Authority is actively working on housing projects and building up new properties, but Hensley said the entire community has to get behind the effort for change to be seen.

Marley has been struggling to get into permanent housing.

"I’ve been dealing with one apartment complex since October, and I’ve been getting shoved around since then," Marley said.

WATCH: 2 News talked to Housing Solutions about issues with affordable housing:

Housing Solutions study pinpoints affordable housing as main cause of homelessness

"One thing that Tulsa struggles with, just as any community in the United States, is what we call 'nimbyism,' which is 'Not In My Backyard,'" said Hensley. "It's important for Tulsans who want to see the issue of homelessness solved to not have that mindset and to be open to welcoming neighbors of all incomes to their communities because it really does create a thriving city for all of us when we work together."

A full breakdown of this year's PiT Count can be found here.

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