Crews count people in Oklahoma City experiencing homelessness

OKLAHOMA CITY - Early Thursday morning, workers and volunteers were out for the annual count of people in Oklahoma City experiencing homelessness.

The census is required every two years for communities who receive funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; however, in Oklahoma City, it’s done every year.

This year it comes at a time when folks in our city could really use it.

Officials told News 4 that times are good for some Oklahoma City residents. The housing market is doing well, the price of rent is up - but their good fortune can lead to the devastation of others.

Before the sun was up, teams were out surveying a side of Oklahoma City most never see, and it’s a harsh reality.

"It's just ins and outs you know,” said Steve Bayshore, who received help on Thursday. “Day center, get up and do my thing."

Teams found folks living in tents, under bridges and other places around the city.

The surveys also target obvious places like day centers where the homeless go for help.

The goal is to spot trends in where the homeless are and what services and housing programs can best target their needs.

The long-term goal is ending homelessness, but on Thursday short-term goals were also met.

Teams handed out necessities like coats, gloves and and hygiene kits.

Those surveyed also get information on services to help them get back on their feet and give them things they need like IDs and social security cards.

"We met two people today who I think will actually be able to join some of our programs and really benefit,” said Sarah Stewart of the Homeless Alliance. Stewart was part of a team targeting one portion of town.

Those programs are already starting to help some who need it.

"I'm starting GED on the first,” said Falicia Baxter.

Falicia says her goal is to become a forensic scientist, hoping to on crime scenes to help the voiceless.

"To be the voice for those who don't have a voice anymore,” Baxter said. “To stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves."

Last year’s survey counted more than 1,300 people experiencing homeless in OKC.

Experts say the actual population of homeless is typically four to five times larger than the number calculated. They estimate more than 6,800 people were homeless in Oklahoma City last year.

The survey does not typically include those who are temporarily homeless and living with people they know.

You can expect to see the results of this census sometime later this year.

News 4’s Scott Hines of the “In Your Corner” team was among those out helping today.