TULSA, Okla. -- — The number of those living on the streets of Tulsa is the highest seen in decades. John 3:16's CEO told 2 Works for You their most recent survey in November found close to 300 people living in encampments and refusing shelter.
"We saw some disturbing numbers early this year and it became very clear that there were more people on the streets than we'd ever seen, especially those out in encampments. So the unsheltered were our real issue for 2018," Reverend Steve Whitaker said.
Surveys in 2018 saw a spike in numbers for both those living on the street and those in shelters. Staff at John 3:16 plan to increase their efforts going into 2019.
"A significant portion of them will suffer from exposure. We know victimization is extremely high. The most at-risk people in our community are people that are living in encampments, living under bridges," Reverend Whitaker said.
John 3:16 opened a small women's dormitory this year which they hope to almost triple in size by the end of 2019. They're also expanding their outreach team. Those now getting services said their life is turning around.
"Before I really had no hope for the future. Now there's plenty of hope. I have goals and there's lots of hope for my future," Timothy Mulvey said.
The reverend has two large surveys planned for the first two months of the year, and said they won't stop before having answers.