A one-night survey of homelessness in Oklahoma City shows overall homelessness rates are down by nearly 10 percent. However, survey organizers say not all of the results show signs of improvement.
This year’s survey, conducted on Jan. 26, finds the number of homeless people counted in Oklahoma City on one night was 1,368. Last year, the number was 1,511.
The Oklahoma City Department of Planning, which organized the survey, estimates that annual homelessness numbers are four to five times higher than the number of people who are homeless on any given night.
That means between 5,472 and 6,840 people could be homeless annually in Oklahoma City.
In addition to lower overall numbers, this year’s count shows a decrease in homeless veterans and the chronically homeless.
However, homeless families increased from about 90 last year to nearly 120 this year, an increase of 28 percent
“We believe that is largely driven by the increase in the cost of rent in Oklahoma City and the decrease in availability of affordable housing,“ Dan Straughan, the executive director of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance, said.
Oklahoma City officials say federal allocations to fight family homelessness have not increased in the last five years, while funding for other groups, like veterans, has.
“We know what’s successful. We have demonstrated that with two notoriously difficult populations to reduce, and if we have the appropriate support we can be successful with the whole homeless issue.” Straughan said.
Both city and community leaders agree the survey is good for tracking overall trends, which are showing signs of improvement. However, year-to-year numbers can depend on variables like the weather.