Each year, Oklahoma City takes one day to count and survey every homeless person in the city. The most recent “Point-in-Time” count of the homeless was conducted on January 27, 2010. The intention of this count was to provide a snapshot picture of homelessness in Oklahoma City, of both the number of homeless people and their characteristics. A large team of community volunteers from more than 14 organizations surveyed homeless persons in emergency homeless shelters, transitional housing facilities, hot meal sites, crisis facilities such as hospitals and the jail, encampments, and various street locations.
The Point-in-Time count yields valuable data to help service providers understand how many local people are homeless and what kinds of needs they have. This information aids in planning Oklahoma City’s services and programs to feed and shelter the population as well as to help them find affordable housing, access transportation, receive rehabilitation and counseling, find employment, and improve their skills through education and training.
Results showed that Oklahoma City had a high rate of chronic homelessness. A chronically homeless person is, according to HUD’s definition, an individual with a disabling condition who has been continually homeless for one year or more or has had four or more episodes of homelessness within the last three years. On January 27, 294 people counted in emergency shelters, in crisis facilities, and on the streets met this definition.
In the last five years, families with children have been the fastest growing demographic of the Oklahoma City homeless population. As a consequence, the community has focused its efforts to reversing that trend and the 2010 count showed that the number of homeless families with children decreased about 20%. Given the economic conditions pertaining at the time of the count, this reduction is especially good news.
The count also showed that Oklahoma City’s homeless problem is a homegrown one. While some argue that the homeless come here from across the country to access services, the data do not support that assertion. In the 2010 count, only 19% reported being housed outside the Oklahoma City limits prior to becoming homeless. This ratio has been fairly consistent over the past five years.
Of adults responding to special needs questions:
- 27% were chronically homeless by HUD’s definition
- 22% report mental illness
- 27% report substance abuse
- 15% claimed to be veterans
Current results show a total of 1,081 homeless people counted on the night of January 27, 2010.
The Point-in-Time count was a joint project of the City of Oklahoma City, the Coalition for the Needy, and the Homeless Alliance.