NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are working to help Oklahomans who are experiencing homelessness.

The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency has received one-time funding for approximately $32 million through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME-ARP program.

OHFA has signed a contract with OU to provide research on where the funds could have the greatest impact across the state.

“I commend HUD for being very specific that the right kind of people get the right kind of help,” said Darrell Beavers, the housing development programs director for the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. “We have to come up with an allocation plan that we will submit to HUD for their approval, and that plan has to cover a number of topics, like a consultation with stakeholders – people who are working with the homeless population, which is not something our agency regularly does.”

The OU team will be distributing an online survey, host regional meetings across the state, speaking with representatives of service provision areas and collecting data from those who are homeless.

“It’s not that most people going through this don’t want to pick themselves up, they just need to see a pathway to get there. Sometimes it’s a longer reach to get to the bootstrap. If they can see the light at the end of the tunnel, then they can move toward it,” said Bryce Lowery, Ph.D., a regional and city planning associate professor in the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture.

The research team will be conducting in-person and virtual meetings through August with the final reports delivered to the OHFA by the end of the year.

Recent data suggests that 23,372 Oklahoma public school students experienced homelessness over the course of 2018.