By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Making a contribution to help the fight against homelessness in Oklahoma City is now easy through the new text-to-give campaign.
Text HelpOKCHomeless to 41444 and follow the instructions to make a donation benefiting local service organizations that help people who are homeless. Donations can also be made online at HelpOKCHomeless.com.
Local organizations such as the City Rescue Mission, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma, Heartline, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, ReMerge and Sunbeam Family Services will benefit from this program.
According to estimates from the City’s most recent annual Point in Time Survey, there are about 6,000 people in Oklahoma City who are homeless each year.
The funds raised from the text-to-give program will be distributed by the United Way to those participating organizations.
“Everyone in Oklahoma City deserves a chance to succeed, and it should be easier to help them get there,” said Ward 8 Coucilwoman Meg Salyer. “That’s why we’ve been working with the United Way on this program to give people another tool to help our neighbors who are struggling.”
Thirty-three percent of homeless people interviewed report severe mental illness; 40 percent report substance use disorders; 5 percent are victims of domestic violence; 11 percent are veterans; and 16 percent are age 17 or younger.
Studies show that people who are homeless have a life expectancy of about 45 years and are disproportionately likely to be affected by violence and health problems. At least 23 people who were homeless died in Oklahoma City in 2016.
“Every person struggling with homelessness has a unique history, but many of the same problems blocked their way forward – losing a job, facing addiction, abuse,” said United Way of Central Oklahoma President and CEO Debby Hampton. “Our community of service providers has experience to help them make a plan and stay on course to succeed.”
Organizations that will receive funds donated through the campaign include:
• Catalyst Behavioral Services
• Catholic Charities
• Center for Employment Opportunities
• City Rescue Mission
• Exodus House (Criminal Justice & Mercy Ministries)
• Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma
• Homeless Alliance
• HOPE Community Services
• HopeHouse OKC
• Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
• Mental Health Association Oklahoma
• Neighborhood Services Organization
• OKC Metro Alliance, Inc.
• Positive Tomorrows
• RAIN Oklahoma
• Red Rock Behavioral Health Services
• The Salvation Army, Central Oklahoma Area Command
• Skyline Urban Ministry
• Sunbeam Family Services
• Upward Transitions
• Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City
• Urban Mission
• The Winds House (AIDS Support Program, Inc.)
• Youth Services for Oklahoma County
• YWCA Oklahoma City
The City manages federal and local funding that addresses homelessness through the Continuum of Care program. Local social service groups receive the funding and provide housing programs that integrate health services, assistance for domestic violence victims and more.
Participating organizations also rely on charitable donations from residents, businesses and the United Way of Central Oklahoma.