If you’ve spent even 10 minutes with me you know what a huge dog person I am. Friends, family members, former coworkers and even clients know the story of my beloved Baxter who I said goodbye to last March after 16 years. So it stands to reason I would be on top of dog rescues, right? Of course….but it got me thinking. Why isn’t there the same thing for people?
There are outreach programs in a lot of cities, including Tulsa, where you can fill out a simple form to report someone you see in need and an Outreach team will check in on that person. I reported a lady I saw several months ago and she did get a visit but there were no beds available for her at that time. I am thinking about taking this a step further….a lot further!
Because of my passion for dogs, I see and read a lot about dog rescues. I learned about Cuddly, a fundraising and wish list platform for dogs and cats. I am going to give you the link but be warned, there are some *^&*! brutal stories on there about animals that desperately need help. Here’s the link.
The idea that you can pick one dog or cat, see a list of things they need (vet care, blankets, food, etc.) and donate to that animal and come together to get everything they need is inspiring. Here is an example for a specific dog. Why can’t we do this for people?!?! That’s a rhetorical question, we can. The better question is, “Why haven’t we done it?”
That lady I reported to the Outreach people was name Cindy. I talked to her for a few minutes. She has a name and she has a story. She also had a dog, which many homeless people do that makes housing them more difficult sometimes….but not impossible. As of today, January 23rd, 2024 at 3:03 pm, I searched Apartments.com and found 827 apartments in the Tulsa metro that were under $900 a month. The general P.I.T. (Point in Time) count in Tulsa last year for homeless individuals was 1,133.
Given that there are families (including children) in the homeless population count, you don’t need all 827 apartments.The point is we could get everyone off the street….today! This doesn’t even take into account rental houses, current long-term housing for displaced individuals and other options. Most importantly it side steps the Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) crowd. Those clowns are making it impossible to build any type of affordable housing around the country, let alone permanent housing for displaced individuals.
The one advantage of having people off the streets in a single location is that it’s easier to provide the wrap around services they need. Is my idea more challenging? Yes, but again not impossible. Most dog rescues have folks who will drive across the country (sometimes fly!) to pick up or deliver a rescue dog. It’s a lot easier setting up a transportation schedule to take someone to an appointment with a case worker, doctor or job counselor than driving six hounds from Atlanta to Tulsa (a recent trip a local rescue did).
Back to Cuddly, why not have a platform in each city where you could see stories about Cindy and the other 1,132 people who need help. Show what each one of them needs and set up a similar donation program. After you donate, you’re liable to keep an eye on Cindy’s progress and might even help enlist others you know as you share Cindy’s story and see how close she is to getting off the street for good!
What if you could be a part of a group that got Cindy everything she needed? How awesome would you feel that you were part of a group that had tangible, verifiable evidence that your $50 or willingness to provide two rides across town actually changed a person’s life?! They do it for dogs and they also do it for refugees. It’s about time we do it for Cindy and so many others.
There are roughly 750 churches in Tulsa. There are 1,933 religious organizations in the city. There are 633 Service Organizations in Tulsa. By the way, Volunteer Match is another take on connecting people in need with those who can and want to help. The point of these statistics is if a group of people (church, service org, company, etc.) each focused on a specific person, we would see rapid, visible results on ending homelessness for Cindy and others.
Yeah, there are still more questions people will have, but nothing that can’t be answered. I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but as more people get involved the more brain power that can come up with other solutions. Look what they are doing with Medicaid to house individuals. The more people who get involved, the more creative ideas that will surface!
People will still continue to become homeless, but they won’t need to stay that way. My idea is the first step to coming up with permanent solutions. There is no reason this can’t happen. Guess what…this is coming. We are just going to connect the dots!