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Task force announces 9 steps to address homelessness in Tulsa

Posted at 1:03 PM, Aug 09, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — A set of nine immediate action steps to address homelessness were announced on Aug. 9 by Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum.

The steps come at the recommendation of the Housing, Homelessness & Mental Health (H3) Task Force.

“We want Tulsa to be the best city it can be for all of our residents,” Bynum said. “From housing our neighbors, to making our parks, streets and public rights-of-way safer – these immediate action steps will help us address some of Tulsa’s biggest challenges as our Task Force works to finalize a long-term comprehensive strategy.”

These steps come after Tulsa conducted its Point-In-Time Count with Housing Solutions Tulsa in January and found that homeless had gone up 6% in the last year.

The nine steps, according to the City of Tulsa, are:
Action Step 1: Emergency Temporary Housing
The goal of this program is to get 100 people off of the streets at a time for one year. Supportive services will be offered.

Action Step 2: Priority Housing Placement
In partnership with Tulsa Housing Authority (THA), the City and THA will work to create a housing preference priority list for chronically homeless individuals. THA will also work to revisit its criminal background policies in regard to housing placement. 

Action Step 3: Low Barrier Shelter
The City of Tulsa will work to open a Low Barrier Shelter to house 50-75 unsheltered individuals at a time. Shelter intake will include referrals from hospitals, shelters and outreach teams. Supportive services will be offered. Next steps include the issuance of an RFP for a shelter operator.

Action Step 4: Animal Accommodation Expansion 
Permanent space will be made available at Tulsa Day Center for additional animal accommodations to reduce barriers to entry in a traditional shelter environment.

Action Step 5: Open Containers in City Parks
The City will submit a request to the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board to implement new rules allowing the Parks Director to regulate open containers or consumption of alcohol in individual parks. 

Action Step 6: Trespassing on Private Property
This measure will go before the Council for consideration to strengthen the City’s existing trespassing ordinance. The measure will provide details outlining an increased and modified penalty structure, as well as court-offered options and programs available.

Action Step 7: Public Right-of-Way Obstruction
This measure will go before the Council for consideration of an ordinance clarifying that it is illegal to obstruct the right-of-way. The measure will apply to all streets, alleys, crosswalks, sidewalks, driveways or trails, and exceptions will be provided for extenuating circumstances.

Action Step 8: Private Right-of-Way Enforcement
The City will be requesting trespassing letters from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Union Pacific (UP) and South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL). This measure will allow the City to enforce trespassing laws related to camping, sleeping and littering/dumping.

Action Step 9: Consistent Approach to Public Safety
Mayor Bynum will give a directive to Tulsa Police asking them to apply laws consistently regardless of housing status.

At 55 years old, Davey Ramos didn't think he'd ever end up homeless.

He tells 2 News the lack of education, and influx of drugs on the streets, are at the forefront of Tulsa's homeless problem.

"Help them. Help them grow up and out of the drugs," Ramos said. "Quit burning their brains out. That way they can think with their own God-given brain. Right now, they're not thinking with their brain. They're thinking with drugs."

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