In the fall of 2009 The Vine Community Church began holding Wednesday Bible Study and lunch gatherings in the area surrounding Goodholm Park in midtown Oklahoma City. These noontime Bible Studies were a way of allowing the Church community to connect with many of the homeless men and women living in the vicinity. By providing lunch and holding Bible Study they were able to develop personal relationships that went far beyond that single hour once a week. As the relationships deepened many of the people involved in the Church community began to ask questions about homelessness and the cycle of poverty in Oklahoma City. During that time Rhonda Hefton, Jeff Oakley, and Treb Praytor began to meet regularly to try and think through options to help the men and women they were spending time with on a weekly basis find solutions that could help them move from the streets to safe, stable, and permanent housing. The dream of HopeHouse OKC was born out of those simple conversations.
As the three continued to meet weekly, it was becoming increasingly clear in the lives of their homeless friends, that homelessness was a vicious cycle and the journey from the streets to self-sufficiency is one that is nearly impossible to navigate without help. Rhonda, Jeff, and Treb began to develop a passion to help end the cycle of homelessness in Oklahoma City by providing safe, nurturing, housing communities that would seek to assist homeless individuals and families in becoming self-sustaining, and self-reliant contributors to society. The idea was for HopeHouse OKC to be a Transitional Housing Organization committed to the relational picture of Christian community painted throughout the Bible. It would seek to assist a holistic transition to healthy living that addressed the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each individual. And thus, the vision and mission of HopeHouse OKC came to life: To assist individuals and families in need by providing temporary housing and basic support services in a safe and intentional environment of Christian community. It was at that point that the foundation of HopeHouse OKC began to take shape.
In the winter of 2010 an approach to this model of transitional housing emerged and was built around two main focal points; Resident Ownership and Community Involvement. The idea behind Resident Ownership is that in exchange for free or low cost rent and utility housing HopeHouse OKC residents would take ownership in their own transition to healthy and self-sufficient living by agreeing to and participating in things such as: holistic community life, life-skills classes and workshops, success development planning, job seeking assistance and placement, and financial planning. But there is an understanding that community support can drive the opportunity for successful transition up exponentially. Thus, the other focal point for the HopeHouse OKC approach to transitional housing is Community Involvement. Through a network of community support and local Church involvement HopeHouse OKC would seek to provide residents with a wide scope of volunteer and community taught classes, and access to basic support services that may include things such as: medical assistance, dental work, clothing, grocery assistance, haircuts, and auto/repair donation.
In the summer of 2011 HopeHouse OKC was launched as a non-profit 501(c)3 with the passion and desire to help end the cycles of poverty and homelessness for individuals and families in the Greater Oklahoma City Area. The Story of HopeHouse OKC is developing and unfolding and in need of your partnership and support. Together we can.