OKLAHOMA CITY - Amid below freezing temperatures, the state's largest homeless center said they are upholding their standard of choosing which people to take in and which ones to turn away.
The City Rescue Mission has 640 beds and implements a case management program to help individuals, providing opportunities to evaluate how they became homeless and develop a plan of getting out of it.
Tom Jones, CEO of the City Rescue Mission, said the center is open to "anybody who desires to end their homelessness;" however, he explained to News 4 there are people who come to the center and are addicted to drug use but are unwilling to commit to the center's recovery resources. These are the people Jones said they will not take in.
"We have in the cold, cold weather brought some in but, after they beat up our staff, beat up our clients, urinated on beds just because they weren’t in the right mind, then we’ve held that standard a little stronger," he said. "I, as the president of City Rescue, have to protect those that are working so hard to get their lives together and not let somebody who has no desire whatsoever to improve their situation come in and bring distraction."
According to Jones, this does not mean they cannot come in if they fail a drug test. They do, however, have to commit to their recovery program.
"We want them to come in. We beg them to come here, but they don’t want to give up the lifestyle they’re living and, therefore, my hands are tied," he said.
Reisha Moraine, an advocate for the homeless, told News 4 she finds this concerning. For the past three years, Moraine and her husband have spent every weekend through the group Feed His Sheep feeding the homeless and sometimes driving around the metro to help them.
"We’re talking about humans. If these were animals, it’d be an uproar. They need a safe place to go," Moraine said. "These are somebody’s children. I mean, yeah, they might have addicts and issues, but almost everybody does across the board of some kind and these are humans."
Jones maintains the center is open to anyone who is willing to help themselves.
"We beg them to come in, but they are going to have to take responsibility for their behaviors and what it’s going to take to end their homelessness," he said.
Moraine told News 4, in this case, compassion is principle.
"Right now, it’s below freezing. You’re talking about life and death of these humans, and they need a safe place to go," she said. "You can’t strong arm somebody into joining the program when they could die on the streets."
For more information on City Rescue Mission, click here.