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Homeless housing plan addresses basic needs

Advocates have drawn up plans for developing small apartments in Oklahoma City where the chronically homeless could find shelter and a chance at a better life.
by William Crum Modified: January 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

“This initiative has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” Straughan said.

Available housing can be unsuitable, though. Among the chronically homeless, some people find it difficult to care for an apartment, much less shop for groceries or fix their own meals, he said.

That's where the single-room occupancy plan comes in.

To be constructed adjacent to the WestTown day shelter and resource center, the project would provide 20 spartan apartments — along the lines of dormitory rooms with private bathrooms.

The 250-square-foot dwellings would have seating space, and room for a bed, under-the-counter refrigerator and microwave oven.

The project is to cost $1.1 million. Major donors lined up so far include the Inasmuch Foundation, Gaylord Foundation and Leeman Family Foundation, Straughan said.

Single-room occupancy could be a catalyst for other developments that could move people off the streets, into housing and on to a better life, he said.

The annual census of homeless Oklahoma City residents is set for Jan. 30. Last year, advocates counted 1,362 homeless residents living in the city.

Accounting for those who could not be found or counted, advocates estimated 430 people in Oklahoma City had nowhere to stay at night.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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