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The Need

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The Need:

Depending on how you count and how you read the numbers, on any given night there are between 1300 and 2500 homeless individuals living in the greater Oklahoma City Metro area. A popular misconception is that most of these homeless individuals living on the streets of OKC are what we might call “chronically homeless.” Chronic homelessness can be simply defined as an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition (mental illness, substance abuse, physical illness or disability) who has been continuously homeless for a period of a year or more. If we are honest, this is the picture most of us have when we think about homelessness. In our minds we see a man sitting on the corner holding the cardboard sign that reads: “hungry, anything helps.” While this picture is certainly the face of homelessness, roughly 84% of the identified homeless individuals and families living on the streets in the OKC metro area don’t fit this category, but instead are made up of individuals and families facing job loss, domestic violence, or other circumstances resulting in a temporary or permanent housing crisis. These situations often force the affected individuals and families to seek the help of an emergency shelter, or find shelter in other places not meant for human habitation such as cars, camps, streets, or abandoned buildings. Both the chronically homeless and the situationally homeless face a vicious cycle that often is difficult to break. The road from homelessness to self-sufficiency is nearly impossible to navigate without help.

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