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Programs & Resources

The following City of Tulsa programs and resources are either in place or are planned to help address homelessness at the intersection of housing and mental health:


Housing Programs

On December 20, 2023, the City Council approved a $3.1 million budget amendment for this program. When operational, the Emergency Temporary Housing program will provide 25 units of temporary housing to help 100+ unsheltered individuals per year, while also providing them with supportive services with the goal of transitioning them to permanent housing.

On December 20, 2023, the City Council approved a $150,000 budget amendment for this program. When fully functional, this partnership with the Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) will create a housing preference for chronically homeless individuals. As part of the effort, THA revised its program screening requirements for criminal background checks to expand affordable housing options including the removal of 34 out of 47 screening criteria and reducing the look-back period from five years to two years.

Following the pandemic, federal funding for coronavirus relief was used to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness to gain stability and transition to permanent housing. The funds were used for homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing program, shelter services and operations, and street outreach activities. The grant assisted with costs associated with temporary emergency shelter operations (including quarantining clients in motels), shelter services, case management, direct client housing assistance, and street outreach activities.

Partners: City of Tulsa, Youth Services of Tulsa, Salvation Army, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Legal Aid, Tulsa Day Center, Family Safety Center, Center for Housing Solutions, Tulsa CARES


Diversion Resources & Programs

Tulsa Municipal Court, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, and other service providers have teamed up to create the Special Services Docket - a jail diversion program offered at Tulsa Municipal Court for those who have committed low-level offenses. The docket allows those affected by mental illness, substance use, and homelessness who have committed low-level municipal offenses to be paired with a case manager in lieu of serving jail time and the usual fines and fees associated with those offenses.

For more information about Tulsa Municipal Court, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/Court.

Tulsa Sobering Center is a jail diversion program designed to offer an alternative for adult men and women detained for public intoxication. In collaboration with the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa Sobering Center is operated by Grand Addition Recovery Center, a leader in addiction treatment and recovery. Upon entry into the center, Grand Addiction Recovery Center connects adults who suffer with alcoholism or other addictions to opportunities to access its long-term counseling and rehabilitation programs for substance abuse treatment.

 

Tulsa Municipal Court offers yearly amnesty events where people can Clear Warrants and pay fines and fees without risk of arrest. The program is part of the City's Resilience Strategy, which focuses on removing barriers so that people can thrive. More information about future Clear Your Warrants opportunities will be communicated online at www.cityoftulsa.org/court

Spearheaded by District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, expungement expos are held on an annual basis where individuals with a criminal history can get the information and resources they need to clean up their records. Expungement expos are communicated about by Councilwoman Hall-Harper and are highlighted when the City's Resilience Office hosts annual resource fairs. Information on these resources fairs will be communicated at www.cityoftulsa.org/RT


Financial Assistance & Empowerment Resources

The City of Tulsa, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Tulsa operates a Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) that offers one-on-one financial counseling at no cost to all residents. Services are available to anyone regardless of income . Services are available in English, Spanish, Zopau and other languages via Language Line.

The City is embedding financial empowerment programs and policies into City services to improve individual and family financial stability. For more information, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/FEC

Tulsa Financial Empowerment Center services are now integrated into operations at Tulsa Municipal Court. At a judge's discretion, a person may be given the option to reduce fines and fees by participating in the FEC program.

As of February of 2024, court attendees received $8,374 (average around $600 waived per person). 

Through roving van outreach, A Better Way makes stops at targeted “hot spot” areas within the City of Tulsa that are known for panhandling and homelessness, including pedestrian walkways, medians, and overpasses.

The A Better Way van is in operation three days a week. Mondays and Fridays are randomized pick-ups throughout the city, starting its journey at 7 a.m. and Wednesday meet at 8 a.m. starting at the A Better Way sign at Denver House, 252 W. 17th Place. More information can be found online at https://www.cityoftulsa.org/a-better-way/

In the summer of 2023, the City of Tulsa was able to participate in the Low-Income Housing Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which helped more than 2,300 Tulsa utility rate payers with $818,000 of assistance in water and sewer portions of their utility bills. Monies distributed helped keep people’s water on and their account payments up to date.

While program funds are exhausted, Tulsans in need of utility payment assistance can either set up a payment plan with 311, or call 211 to see what other options may be available.

Every year, the City of Tulsa provides grants of up to $7,500 to assist homeowners with emergency housing repairs. To qualify, eligible homeowners who meet HUD’s income guidelines must complete an application and return it to the City of Tulsa/Code Enforcement for review and verification.

Download the application or call (918) 576-5552 to request one or to ask questions.

Tulsa utility customers who need assistance spreading payments out over a period of time are given the opportunity to do so when they call 311. 311 Customer Care Agents will work with customers to ensure water stays on while payments are made over a period of time. To learn about payment plan options for your utility bill, contact 311.


City Staffing

Formed in January 2023, the 3H Task Force was created for the City of Tulsa to better understand the needs of the community in addressing homelessness at the intersection of housing and mental health and create a strategy for the City to best utilize its policy and legislative powers, public convening and education platforms, and financial resources to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness in contributing to broader community solutions. More information can be found at tulsacouncil.org/3HTaskForce

The Department of City Experience was created in 2023 to further embed community focus in City services. As part of the restructuring, Housing and Resilience resources were housed under a single department, furthering the City's commitment to a renewed citizen-forward focus. Learn more.

Travis Hulse was hired in 2022 to serve as the City’s leader in housing policy and strategy and plays an important role in making Tulsa a city where everyone has access to quality, affordable housing. Hulse currently serves under the City's Department of City Experience. Learn more.

The City of Tulsa announced the hiring of Dr. Rebecca Hubbard in January of 2024 to fill the role of the City’s first Chief Mental Health Officer as part of the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity. Dr. Hubbard is responsible for applying a mental health lens to the City’s work and increasing collaboration among mental health programs, crisis response systems, and related services. The new role was the result of a recommendation from the Housing, Homelessness and Mental Health Task Force and was funded in the FY 23-24 budget.

The City of Tulsa established PartnerTulsa in 2021 to streamline the City’s economic development efforts, which combined five public entities to create a single, independent organization to lead the City of Tulsa’s community and economic development efforts. PartnerTulsa is the lead agency in the development of the Tulsa Housing Strategy and continues to develop and manage multiple economic development initiative related to housing and unit production. Learn more about PartnerTulsa at www.partnertulsa.org

The City of Tulsa is working to identify funding and resources to support the hiring of a homeless program lead. This position will serve as the City's point of contact and liaison for homelessness services including service provider contractor coordination and efforts requiring collaboration with community partners.

The City of Tulsa has three Trash/Litter Cleanup Crews coordinated by the Asset Management Department. These crews focus on trash and litter on rights of way, and assist in the cleanup of homeless encampments in Tulsa.

The City of Tulsa is working to identify and support an additional two Trash/Litter Cleanup Crews to be coordinated by the Asset Management Department. These crews will assist in the cleanup of trash and litter on rights of way, and assist in the cleanup of homeless encampments in Tulsa.

Announced in Mayor Bynum's 2023 State of the City address, the City of Tulsa's Development Services Department is working to ensure affordable housing project developers receive concierge service from the City when it comes to building in Tulsa. A service usually reserved only for the very largest industrial projects, it ensures affordable housing remains our top real estate priority.

More information about permitting can be found online.

The Office of Financial Empowerment and Community Wealth is a dedicated division of government that champions personal financial stability programs and policy priorities, such as one-on-one financial counseling and safe banking. For more information, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/OFE

A mental health position funded from ARPA, Tulsa Municipal Court now has an embedded mental health advocate who connects citizens to community resources while supporting citizen's mental health needs at the courthouse.


Housing Amenities

City Lights Foundation of Oklahoma has been selected to operate a Residential Care Center for the City of Tulsa. The City Lights Foundation of Oklahoma was selected based on its response to the City’s request for proposals that went out in November of 2023. The shelter is currently scheduled to open in late 2024 and the City is currently working through a site-selection process for the shelter.

Read More

Work is currently underway to add permanent space at the Tulsa Day Center for additional animal accommodations to reduce barriers to entry in a traditional shelter environment. 

The City of Tulsa is working with the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency, A Way Home For Tulsa, and our faith community to certify religious facilities throughout Tulsa as emergency shelters when our notorious Oklahoma weather creates extreme heat or frigid cold. If you represent an organization that has an interest in providing indoor shelter or volunteer support during weather emergencies, we would love to hear from you on how you wish to join the cause.

From September 2020 to June 2021, Coronavirus Relief Funding provided day and night shelter services at the former Juvenile Detention Center for individuals experiencing homelessness, including warm meals, legal aid, case management and free pet clinics. The funds allocated also provide hotel facilities to prevent overcrowding in shelters and community spread of COVID-19. Individuals who test positive for the virus are safely quarantined at the City Lights Hotel and provide daily meals. Community partners also coordinate outreach to people experiencing homelessness and have helped permanently house individuals. 

Impact: More than 27,021 visits at overflow shelter, more than 47,910 meals provided by Iron Gate, 230 people have been sheltered at City Lights Hotel (85 of those have tested positive for COVID-19), 51 people have been placed in permanent housing, and thanks to a partnership with local restaurants, more than 60,000 meals were provided to guests in the first year of the pandemic. in the past year.

Partners: Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, City Lights Foundation, Tulsa Day Center, A Better Way, A Way Home for Tulsa, Iron Gate, Skyline Animal Hospital, Community Service Council, Housing Solutions Overflow Shelter Services: September 2020 to June 2021


Response Methodologies & Supports

COPES is a Family and Children's Services 24/7 mobile crises program dedicated to serving adults and children in psychiatric crises, helping prevent suicide with less-restrictive levels of care. COPES uses a sophisticated phone system and staffing patterns to respond effectively to crises. Contact COPES at (918) 744-4800. Read more about COPES.

Tulsa Fire Department started the CARES pilot program in 2016 to reduce high-utilizers’ calls. High utilizers are those who call 911 more than 15 times a year, often for non-emergencies. CARES connects high-utilizers with healthcare and social service providers such as Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Family & Children Services, and St. John’s Health System. From January to March of 2017, CARES reduced calls from the top ten high-utilizers by 70 percent.

The Tulsa Police Department in partnership with Family & Children’s Services (FCS) was awarded federal funds to design and implement a Police Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC). The PMHC is a response model that pairs trained police officers with licensed mental health professionals to respond to 911 calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises in Tulsa.

Several agency partners have worked together since January 2017 to provide a more efficient and effective response to individuals in emergent mental health crisis by providing safety and stabilization. CRT operates five days a week, Monday through Friday, and provides a rapid response team that works to de-escalate individuals in mental health crisis and divert them when appropriate from costly jail, hospital emergency room, and inpatient behavioral health hospital stays. CRT creates a more efficient utilization of fire, emergency medical services, and police services.

CRT, which is partially funded through the Tulsa Area United Way, operates as a three-person team including an officer from the Tulsa Police Department, a paramedic from the Tulsa Fire Department, and a mental health professional from Family and Children’s Services. These first responders undergo Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to respond to emergencies and mental calls via a partnership with Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The mental health professional completes specialized training for best practice in Mobile Crises Response and Crises Intervention through Family and Children’s Services.

OSU Center for Health Sciences, members of the Tulsa Police and Fire Departments, and local medical professionals have teamed up to provide a Tulsa area medical clearance protocol for acute-psychiatric patients. Many patients who are taken to hospitals either don't need to be there and need prompt mental health treatment, or need a next-step path from the hospital to mental health treatment. This protocol is meant to be adopted across Tulsa's hospitals and medical facilities and used to direct emergency personnel as to what the most appropriate treatment is for those struggling with mental health issues.

The Tulsa Police Department has a dedicated mental health unit consisting of officers and a Police Special Services Clinical Coordinator to help coordinate the department's response to mental health-related calls.

The Alternate Response Teams staffs a TFD CIT paramedic with a COPES clinician to de-escalate and stabilize individuals in mental or behavioral health crisis. An FCS case manager provides wrap around services to ensure a continuum of care and the best care for the client. Unique from the CRT response unit, ART-1 also provides a resource for high utilizers looking for assistance through the 9-1-1 system. Real time response to high utilizers helps to bridge the gaps in successfully connecting with high utilizers.

The Tulsa City and County Continuum of Care (CoC), known as A Way Home for Tulsa (AWH4T), serves as the local planning body that coordinates the community’s policies, strategies, and activities toward ending homelessness. AWH4T is a collective impact of organizations and individuals that exists to plan and implement strategies that support a system of outreach, engagement, assessment, prevention and evaluation for those experiencing homelessness, or those persons at risk of homelessness, within Tulsa City/County.

Learn more online


Recent Policy Updates

The Tulsa City Council introduced and Mayor Bynum signed an updated trespassing ordinance that makes it easier for individuals detained for trespassing to be considered for a diversion or specialty court program, while at the same time strengthening the City's enforcement capabilities as work continues to combat chronic offenders. The new ordinance does not change what is defined as trespassing. The maximum penalty for a first offense remains the same, up to a $200 fine plus the court costs. The ordinance adds a second offense with a maximum penalty of up to a $500 fine plus costs and/or up to 10 days in jail. A Municipal Judge must inquire as to whether the individual would like to be considered for diversion or specialty court program prior to accepting a plea.

The Parks and Recreation Board has approved new rules allowing the Parks Director to regulate open containers and/or consumption of alcohol in individual parks. The new rules will initially focus on addressing public safety concerns in Downtown parks to prohibit alcoholic beverages except at permitted events. As part of the updated rules, new signs have been installed at Chapman Green.

Mayor Bynum has directed Tulsa Police to enforce all laws equally regardless of perceived housing status.

To enforce trespassing laws related to camping, sleeping and littering/dumping on private rights-of-way, the City has already sought and received permission from the railroads to remove campsites from their property. Additional permissions are being asked from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.


Funding Mechanisms

In August of 2023, the City dedicated more than $100 million toward housing, homelessenss, and mental health programming. Monies came from the passage of the third installment of Improve Our Tulsa, which dedicated $75 million toward these efforts, and more than $25 million was also dedicated through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Downtown Development Redevelopment (DDRF), Home-ARP, Opioid Settlement, and Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) monies.

More information can be found online.

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a citywide fund for the production and preservation of affordable housing to further the City of Tulsa’s mission to create quality housing opportunities for all Tulsans. Through Affordable Housing Trust Fund programs, residents receive the resources they need to move from homelessness to homeownership. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund provides loans and grants through the following programs: affordable housing development loans, homebuyer assistance grants, landlord incentive grants and rental assistance grants. More information can be found at partertulsa.org.

Announced in Mayor Bynum’s 2022 State of the City address, the City has exceeded the mayor’s two-year $500 Million Housing Challenge goal in under one year, with the total sitting at $512.43 million as of November 2023. This captures all types of housing projects (new construction, renovations, conversions) and a variety of single-family, multi-family, and everything in-between. Work to grow that number continues.

Over the past 20 years, the City of Tulsa and PartnerTulsa have leveraged the Downtown Development Redevelopment Fund (DDRF) to assist in the development of Downtown Tulsa. The DDRF has contributed to 850 new residential units within the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL) and has proven to be instrumental to the revitalization of and reinvestment in Tulsa’s urban core. Past projects include but are not limited to the Meridia, East End Village, the Mayo 420 building, Renaissance Uptown, and the Tribune Lofts. The DDRF is funded by four separate Tulsa voter approved funding packages; T2013 Improve Our Tulsa, 1996 Sales Tax, Vision 2025, and the 2006 Third Penny Extension. More information can be found at partnertulsa.org.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a funding tool used to encourage and leverage private and public investment in specific areas of Tulsa. TIF is used to build and repair public infrastructure, encourage placemaking, and assist in the development of unproductive properties. Funds are generated over a period of up to 25 year by growth in the Assessed Value (AV) of properties and the sales tax generated by business activities within a designated district. PartnerTulsa currently manages TIF Districts in Downtown Tulsa, the intersection of 11th and Lewis, the Peoria Mohawk Business Park and 36th St. North and MLK Boulevard. More information can be found at partnertulsa.org

City of Tulsa Grants Administration oversees the approval and dissmenation of grants that assist in the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Grant funds that help achieve these goals include the HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP), the Emergency Solutions Grants Program (ESG), Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, and others.

To see more information, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/grants

The City of Tulsa has partnered with Housing Solutions to offer a funding mechanism for homeless prevention and intervention services. The signage campaign gives Tulsans an alternative way to support people who are panhandling. The signs share two key pieces of information: how to donate via text for those with a desire to help, and how to get support for those who need help. More information can be found online.

 

Strategies & Action Steps


 

Important Information