A study commissioned to evaluate the city’s homeless prevention program was handed over in part to Norman City Council on Tuesday, but revealed little new information, some said.
In January, the council allocated $ 100,000 to the nonprofit Homebase to identify gaps in homeless prevention programs. Homebase revealed preliminary results of a gap analysis study on Tuesday evening during a study session.
The city’s homelessness program coordinator Michelle Evans said in July that she would provide “the final strategic plan” to tackle homelessness in Norman by October. Without an explanation from staff or Evans regarding the delay, Mayor Breea Clark told council on Tuesday that the study would not be completed and presented until December.
The presentation cited findings from its gap analysis portion of the study: the need for affordable housing and increased access to low barrier housing, homeless community outreach, intensive case management and new partnerships with organizations and businesses in the community.
These areas of improvement weren’t new to Clark.
“I don’t know if this was all very surprising,” she said. “We know we need more affordable housing.
Homebase recommended that the city establish a county-wide five-year housing development plan and policies to encourage affordable housing that prioritizes one-room housing units, the report said. Councilors have already discussed the incentive to develop housing for low-income people through exemption from permits and fees.
Homebase cited another need discussed at previous council and committee meetings for partnerships with landlords willing to rent to homeless people. The report also recommended expanding the city’s existing program to help people get the documents needed to rent, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses. He also said more money is needed to remove barriers to housing.
The report noted the lack of a permanent 24-hour “full-service” homeless assistance center and the limited capacity of the city’s emergency overnight shelter.
Homebase said it has held five focus groups with community stakeholders and conducted more than 500 surveys. It also reviewed the minutes of council and committee meetings which are included in a review of community data and documents, housing inventory and point-in-time count surveys that document the number of homeless people. said Homebase deputy director Carolyn Wylie.
Bill Scanlon, a frequent guest and founding member of the ad hoc committee to tackle homelessness, said the study so far has focused on existing needs.
“I got the impression while watching the presentation that most of the findings and recommendations are known to city staff,” Scanlon said. “The usefulness of the study was to focus on certain areas for further work.”
The study presented on Tuesday also provided background information on homelessness in general for the board.
Homebase has learned that one in three homeless people have a mental health problem and one in ten people have an addiction disorder. Ward 3 Councilor Kelly Lynn said he doubted the accuracy of the addiction count because the cases were “self-reported.”
Wylie agreed it was probably higher because people don’t want to admit they’re struggling with drug addiction.
“Sometimes that’s a barrier to getting into certain programs,” she said. “This is one of the reasons we emphasize the need for low barrier programs.
Homebase found that six in ten homeless people had no source of income, half had no health insurance, and more than one in five were chronically homeless. One in four people is a victim of domestic violence.
The report also noted the role that housing costs play for those at risk of homelessness. Less than 10% of dwellings offer one-bedroom or one-room dwellings, while seven out of ten dwellings are three-bedroom dwellings.
“Most housing is not affordable,” the study found. He defined “affordable” as a maximum of 30% of household income allocated to housing.
Nearly one in three households spends more than 30% of their income on housing costs, with one in two black households in this category, according to the study.
Mindy Wood covers Town Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Contact her at [email protected] or 405-416-4420.