OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – More than 1,400 people are experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City, according to a new report.
The annual ‘Point in Time Count’ was released on Thursday after officials set out to count members of the homeless population on Jan. 26.
In all, officials say 1,436 people were counted.
“This is a particularly difficult population to count accurately,” said Jerod Shadid, program planner for the City of Oklahoma City’s Homeless Services. “The result from one year to the next may not tell you much but conducting the survey every year and looking at trends over time helps us identify where we need to focus our resources.”
It’s a slight increase from 2022’s count, which resulted in 1,339 people being counted. However, organizers say they believe 2022’s numbers were incorrect.
“We believe last year’s count was artificially low,” said Dan Straughan, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance. “The 2022 count took place the first week of March, rather than the usual last week of January timeframe. There are lots of variables that impact the count, including weather and time of the month. I believe that we may have encountered several of those factors last year.”
According to 2023’s ‘Point in Time Count:’
- 9% of the homeless population are veterans
- 20% are members of families with children
- 36% are female, 62% are male, 1% are transgender, and 1% are nonconforming
- 48% are white, 32% are Black, 7% are Native American
- 11% are people 24-years-old or younger
- 23% of the population reports mental illness
- 28% are considered ‘chronically’ homeless
- 54% were staying in a shelter, 31% were unsheltered, and 13% were in transitional housing.
“The good news is our community is constantly innovating to find better ways to house people,” said Shadid. “Thanks to years of collaboration, local organizations are doing a good job coordinating services and ensuring that we as a community are meeting people where they are to end their homelessness.”
Homeless service providers say they are still struggling with rising eviction rates and limited availability of affordable housing.
As housing costs go up and wages remain stagnant, it is creating additional pressure for people with financial difficulties.
Oklahoma also has some of the highest rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence in the nation.
“The community is working really hard to bring together multiple nonprofits and government agencies to take a team approach to housing people, and it’s working,” said Straughan. “We just need to invest more and address some of the systemic issues that lead to homelessness.”