Nonprofit donates $100K to Oklahoma City’s homeless fund
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The nonprofit Inasmuch Foundation recently gave $100,000 to Oklahoma City Hall to create a comprehensive plan to deal with rising levels of homelessness in Oklahoma City, officials said.
The municipality and other local nonprofit service providers have determined that an evaluation of current service needs and better targeting of resources is needed to address the issue of homelessness effectively, Assistant City Manager Aubrey McDermid told City Council members.
“We need to be able to address immediate needs, but also understand what the root causes of homelessness are and develop long-term strategies,” McDermid told The Journal Record.
According to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report published by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, more than 550,000 people experienced homelessness on a typical night in the United States of America that year. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness reported in its 2015 study, “Opening Doors,” that people without secure, regular housing frequently require the most costly publicly funded services, to say nothing of the negative impact of homelessness on mental and physical health.
Those services carry a cost for the rest of the community. In 2016, Oklahoma City’s direct annual contribution to social services totaled about $121,000, officials confirmed at the time, or 20 cents per capita for the city’s 600,000 resident taxpayers. The ratio is similar in other cities across the nation, although direct comparisons are difficult due to differences in accounting processes. The vast majority of funds come from the state, federal grants and private contributions, which also vary depending on circumstance, past program success and needs.
The local Homeless Alliance nonprofit organization has found that getting people into shelters was only the first step toward health and productivity. Larger centers provide staff and materials for medical clinics, legal and spiritual counseling, job placement and job training services. When the Homeless Alliance looked at the overall cost of a single shelter bed in 2010, the price tag was more than $10,000.
City Hall will hire a professional consultant for about nine months to develop a comprehensive strategy, McDermid said. That strategy will assess the current service system, determine actual needs and set benchmarks to determine progress. Officials approved posting a request for proposals, or RFP, with a recommendation expected by June.
Mayor David Holt said he has formed a task force including service providers, philanthropic organizations, City Council members and municipal staff. Several members of the task force will then be included on a proposal selection committee, which will review and rank the best approaches and recommend a project consultant. The committee meetings will be open to the public.
The first two council members identified for the task force are also recently elected: JoBeth Hamon and James Cooper. The task force’s inaugural meeting will be at the downtown library.
Residents understand homelessness is a complicated issue, Cooper said, and they want to handle it with compassion as well as efficiency.
“I am so excited to participate on this task force. When I was knocking on doors (during the election campaign), there were five or six things people told me over and over that they were concerned about, and homeless was always something they talked about,” he said.
“We have traditionally worked from a strategy or plan that various community groups have agreed upon in regards to lots of issues, most noticeably homelessness,” said Holt, who was elected in 2018. “I discovered, upon taking office, that we were still working off the plan we were working off of 10 years ago. It was then known as the 10-year plan to end homelessness.”
Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com