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Oklahoma homelessness on the rise

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On a cold January night each year, the Annual Homeless Assessment Report is taken in every city across the nation. The report indicates how many individuals throughout the United States remain without a home from coast to coast.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) releases the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in two parts, offering a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered— on a single night.

The most recent report, done in 2016, states that 549,928 people were homeless in the United States.

Over one-fifth of people experiencing homelessness were children, which is 22 percent of the total. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless people declined by three percent.

The 2016 report indicated that Oklahoma had one of the largest increases for the year in homelessness with an eight percent rise. The AHAR reports that less than one percent of Oklahomans are homeless—about 4,107 individuals, of which 2,997 are single. The city of Tulsa has seen a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Tulsa World in 2016. Tulsa has a citizen population of 403,090, a total of 811 people were reported as homeless on the night of Jan. 28, according to the Tulsa City-County Continuum of Care Point-in-Time Survey in 2016.

The Tulsa City-County Continuum of Care Point-in-Time Survey, like the AHAR, happens every January for the city. The report found almost 825 people were reported as staying in shelters or on the streets on Jan. 26.

Comparatively, California’s homeless population is close to 118,000, Texas is 23,000 and New York is 86,000.

The AHAR refers to homelessness in the following terms: a Chronically Homeless Individual refers to an individual with a disability who has been continuously homeless for one year or more. The term homeless describes a person who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.
Continuums of Care (CoC) are local planning bodies responsible for coordinating the full range of homelessness services in a geographic area, which may cover a city, county, metropolitan area or an entire state. The report states that there are 403 Continuums of Care (CoC) nationwide as of 2016.
A few landmarks CoC’s in Tulsa include The Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Pearl’s Hope and Night Light Tulsa.

The Outreach programs in place at ORU connect with many of these different organizations like Salvation Army and the John 3:16 mission. There are even opportunities to meet with homeless and foster youth within the city, such as House for Hope and Thursday Night Lights.

According to an interview done by the Tulsa World with the Tulsa Day Center the majority of the shelters located in Tulsa are running at full capacity with the new year’s numbers, although none are in crisis.