You may see them as you cross the street or enter one of the many fine establishments in the downtown Tulsa area. They exist on the fringes of our society. They are not forgotten, just not thought about unless we happen to cross there path, or they cross ours. They are the homeless. You may give them a few dollars, or even buy them some food. However, that does little to relieve the true problem. There is a definitive scarcity of programs available that are specifically geared to help these people gain skills, employment and a home to actually live in.
I’m not referring to a shelter. I’m talking about an actual apartment or house that they can take pride in and call their own. Also, when I say homeless, I’m also talking about the hundreds of “couch surfers” that are effectively homeless and go undocumented. One must remember that the numbers used in the most comprehensive studies are almost always going to be flawed, due to the near impossibility of recording each and every person who, by the very nature of their socio-economic status, may hide from friends and family, as well as statisticians taking any sort of censes.
According to a recent article in the Tulsa World programs are available for Veterans. These programs claim a dramatic reduction in that strata of the homeless population for Oklahoma City. However, from my view on the third floor of Hillcrest Medical Center, which inspired me to write this story, the outlook is not as promising. It is here among the cloister of buildings that the problem for Tulsa seems to be growing. In a recent survey conducted in January 2012 the by Tulsa City-County Point in Time Continuum of Care, there were 772 homeless individuals in the streets of Tulsa. As I have said before numbers can be deceiving, but even this can be effective in illustrating my point. In a city of 400,000 nearly 800 homeless may not seem as though we have a very big problem. When you consider that it is a problem that we should not have due to the fact that we are the richest country in the world in one of least economically challenged states in the union, then you begin to see that “homeless by choice” should be the only homeless in our streets.