Today, Mayor G.T. Bynum presented the Tulsa City Council an update from the Housing, Homelessness, & Mental Health (3H) Task Force - an update that includes a set of immediate action steps as part of ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness and make Tulsa a safer city.
“We want Tulsa to be the best city it can be for all of our residents,” Mayor Bynum said. “From housing our neighbors, to making our parks, streets and public rights-of-way safer – these immediate action steps will help us address some of Tulsa’s biggest challenges as our Task Force works to finalize a long-term comprehensive strategy.”
Since January, the 3H Task Force has met weekly to determine how to better understand the root causes of homelessness in Tulsa. 3H Task Force members include personnel from the City of Tulsa, Tulsa City Council and the business community/nonprofit sectors.
“Thank you to all of our community partners, service providers, businesses, residents, and city employees who have helped the Task Force learn about these very important issues,” District 2 City Councilor Jeannie Cue said. “We are so grateful for your time and the daily contributions you make to our City. These initial recommendations are a result of your input and I look forward to our continued partnerships as we build our strategy to improve housing, homelessness, and mental health in our community.”
In February, the first of two community meetings were held to update Tulsans on the current state of homelessness in Tulsa and the work of the Mayor/Council Task Force. The meeting was also used as a time to hear from the community.
While a second community meeting is forthcoming, these action steps address immediate recommendations that can be put in motion right now, which include:
Action Step 1: Emergency Temporary Housing The goal of this program is to get 100 people off of the streets at a time for one year. Supportive services will be offered.
Action Step 2: Priority Housing Placement In partnership with Tulsa Housing Authority (THA), the City and THA will work to create a housing preference priority list for chronically homeless individuals. THA will also work to revisit its criminal background policies in regard to housing placement.
Action Step 3: Low Barrier Shelter The City of Tulsa will work to open a Low Barrier Shelter to house 50-75 unsheltered individuals at a time. Shelter intake will include referrals from hospitals, shelters and outreach teams. Supportive services will be offered. Next steps 3include the issuance of an RFP for a shelter operator.
Action Step 4: Animal Accommodation Expansion
Permanent space will be made available at Tulsa Day Center for additional animal accommodations to reduce barriers to entry in a traditional shelter environment.
Action Step 5: Open Containers in City Parks The City will submit a request to the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board to implement new rules allowing the Parks Director to regulate open containers or consumption of alcohol in individual parks.
Action Step 6: Trespassing on Private Property This measure will go before the Council for consideration to strengthen the City’s existing trespassing ordinance. The measure will provide details outlining an increased and modified penalty structure, as well as court-offered options and programs available.
Action Step 7: Public Right-of-Way Obstruction This measure will go before the Council for consideration of an ordinance clarifying that it is illegal to obstruct the right-of-way. The measure will apply to all streets, alleys, crosswalks, sidewalks, driveways or trails, and exceptions will be provided for extenuating circumstances.
Action Step 8: Private Right-of-Way Enforcement The City will be requesting trespassing letters from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Union Pacific (UP) and South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL). This measure will allow the City to enforce trespassing laws related to camping, sleeping and littering/dumping.
Action Step 9: Consistent Approach to Public Safety Mayor Bynum will give a directive to Tulsa Police asking them to apply laws consistently regardless of housing status.
More information on housing resources can be found online at www.cityoftulsa.org/housing.