Tulsa Homelessness Nonprofit sees opportunity for big change after winter labor efforts
Becky Gligo, executive director of the homeless nonprofit Housing Solutions Tulsa, said the response to last week’s life-threatening cold is one where everything is on deck.
“We had around 30 people out and about for almost a week and we brought everyone who would go in with them,” Gligo said.
“Nobody had more than two hours of sleep at a time for about five days,” said Gligo. “It was just constant and the weather was extreme and the pressure of knowing this was life or death was extreme.”
The mobilization – more urgent by the fact that a man who was homeless died in the cold in the early days of the weather emergency – resulted in at least 415 unprotected people being given hotel rooms and more being moved to shelters, Gligo said.
In the aftermath, Gligo said, there was still more to be done.
“When we started this effort, frankly, it was about saving lives in the immediate crisis. And then the public really reacted to what we were doing and we were able to raise over $ 1 million in less than a week,” said Gligo.
“We realized very quickly that this was an opportunity we would probably never get again,” said Gligo.
On Monday, Housing Solutions opened a consolidated location in a hotel that is now being offered rooms to anyone who received hotel rooms in the city in the past month. Gligo said the site, which is currently funded for three months and whose location will not be shared with those who seek refuge there for privacy reasons, will have case workers, job fairs and other resources for the people there, all with the ultimate goal to find them permanent shelter.
“Homelessness is complex and people have legitimate reasons not to want to work with us, and at some point we have to respect that. However, we hope we gain enough trust in the public now and in the unprotected community that they know if we hold out a hand we’ll get it right, “said Gligo.
According to Gligo, Housing Solutions has raised around $ 1.4 million so far since last month and is trying to raise a full $ 2 million by early May to pay for things like rent, transportation, security deposit and pet fees for people in the EU Hotel.
On Monday, the city of Tulsa proclaimed Friday, March 5th, in recognition of the work of Housing Solutions teams and other groups on Homeless Outreach Worker Appreciation Day.