OKLAHOMA CITY – Organizers say MAPS 4 could be used to help eliminate homelessness in Oklahoma City.
“Tonight on our streets, Oklahoma City will have 1,300 people experiencing homelessness and we don’t have to be there,” said Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance Dan Straughan.
Straughan says homelessness is a continuous problem in Oklahoma City.
Out of the 1,300 homeless people on the streets right now, over 200 of those are families with children and more than 100 are veterans.
The proposal to MAPS 4 included money for new and improved public housing.
“1979, I was in college, Oklahoma City had 3,000 units of public housing. In 2019, Oklahoma City public housing … we have 3,000 units,” said Straughan. “That can’t make sense for a city that’s growing like ours.”
He says their plan includes providing at least 4,000 more units. They’re asking for $40 to $80 million.
“We can use it as seed money to leverage eight times the MAPS investment from the federal housing trust fund, to state housing trust fund, low-income housing tax credits,” he said.
He says regardless of what people may think, the number one driver of homelessness is rental costs.
“We’ve also over the last five years seen really steep increases in rental costs in Oklahoma City. The cost of rent drives homeless numbers more than any other issue, more than mental health, more than substance abuse, more than criminal record, more than anything,” said Straughan.
Paula Lewis, chair of Oklahoma City Public Schools Board, also spoke at the meeting, saying 2,615 kids were homeless just last year.
One of their main goals is to prevent a future crisis.
“To create housing that would address Oklahoma City’s current homeless issue and prevent Oklahoma City from having a homeless crisis ten years from now,” he said.