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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

Advocates have drawn up plans for simple apartments suitable for chronically homeless men and women who struggle with the most fundamental housekeeping skills.

The “single-room occupancy” development is proposed for the WestTown campus, a resource center for the homeless in the 1700 block of NW 4 Street west of downtown.

The development could be a model for the kind of housing many indigent residents need, said Dan Straughan, executive director of Oklahoma City's Homeless Alliance.

The Alliance hopes to build the development on the northeast corner of the WestTown campus. Tuesday, Straughan described the project at the Oklahoma City Council meeting. Eventually, the Alliance will ask the city council to approve the project.

WestTown includes a day shelter, medical and dental clinic, and resource center that connects homeless residents with housing assistance, job training and other services.

Straughan told the council Tuesday that the project would build on the success of the Housing First initiative.

It is designed to get people a roof over their heads before tackling other needs, such as job training, drug- and alcohol-abuse treatment, and mental health counseling.

Straughan said Housing First, begun a year ago, had placed 217 people in places of their own by the end of 2013. So far, 98 percent have managed to hold onto their homes, he said.

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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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