The City of Tulsa is close to launching a two-year program to temporarily shelter homeless people in 25 hotel rooms scattered around Tulsa.
“We're kind of estimating this particular program could serve about 100 people each year. We'd love for it to be more, we'll just see how it goes,” said Travis Hulse, the Housing Policy Director for the City.
In a briefing for City Councilors Wednesday, he said budget changes would come to them next week for the new program using hotel rooms and other steps in a targeted approach to help specific groups, like homeless people with pets or people who might otherwise be excluded from the current shelters.
The Tulsa Day Center will help guide people into the temporary shelter program, and once there’s funding, according to Hulse, “This program is something we can start almost immediately.”
Hulse's estimate is maybe 500 - 700 people in the most critical unsheltered category. There are hundreds more people living outside, and 3,000 who would otherwise be homeless if not for supportive housing that is available to them.
Chris Taylor, a Mental Health Professional who runs a private mental health clinic, praised the many resources for the homeless and nearly homeless in Tulsa but told councilors, “The effect of that is the people who are left on the street are the people who didn't fit into a program or haven't fit yet.”
He said the homeless still outside are generally the most acutely mentally ill, so programs need to be created to accept them as they are.
“Regardless of their mental health condition or intoxication level,” Taylor said.