Business, community and nonprofit leaders, elected officials and the philanthropic community joined 24 Tulsa-area organizations today to announce Tulsa surpassed its 2015 goals to house veterans and individuals experiencing chronic homelessness as part of the Zero: 2016 Tulsa initiative.

The collaboration spearheading Zero: 2016 Tulsa, A Way Home for Tulsa, had a goal to house 290 veterans by the end of 2015 and 95 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. The group announced its 2015 totals:

  • 298 veterans housed in 2015
  • 78 chronically homeless housed in 2015

“I have never seen this level of strategy and collaboration among Tulsa-area nonprofits, and the number of individuals experiencing homelessness we were able to house is simply incredible,” said Jeff Jaynes, chair of A Way Home for Tulsa and executive director at Restore Hope Ministries. “And by housing 78 chronically homeless individuals in 2015, this means Tulsa will be among the first American cities to reach its goal to house the chronically homeless population.”

Zero: 2016 is a national initiative with a goal of ending veteran homelessness by Dec. 31, 2015 and chronic homelessness by Dec. 31, 2016. Tulsa is one of 75 communities participating in the initiative, which is spearheaded by New York-based nonprofit Community Solutions.

More than 200 business and community leaders gathered in June 2015 to announce the launch of Zero: 2016 Tulsa when the housing goals were announced. Jaynes was confident A Way Home for Tulsa would reach its first-year goals, but he said he never expected some of the additional outcomes of the Zero: 2016 initiative.

“What we have now is momentum,” Jaynes said. “Tulsa will reach its goals to house veterans and individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, but our work will not end this December. Our new goal is this: that homelessness in Tulsa, when it does occur in the future, will be rare, brief and nonrecurring.”

In addition to its housing numbers, A Way Home for Tulsa announced the following achievements for the half-way point of the two-year Zero: 2016 initiative:

  • Creation of a By-Name List, a list nonprofit case managers will be able to utilize to identify and discuss each individual experiencing homelessness by name, areas of need, status of housing, etc.;
  • Adding more than 100 new available housing units for use in 2015 and an additional 150 for use in 2016 and beyond;
  • Created and secured funding for the position of Housing Resource Coordinator to lead and organize efforts for identifying new and open housing units in Tulsa;
  • Securing of number of business and community allies to supports Zero: 2016 Tulsa efforts;
  • Increasing efficiencies among A Way Home for Tulsa agencies.

Bill Major, executive director of The Zarrow Family Foundations, challenged business, community and government leaders in Tulsa to engage in and support the work of Zero: 2016.

“We must all assist A Way Home for Tulsa agencies with our policy-making, our voices, our advocacy, our volunteerism, our dollars and our commitment to making Tulsa a hospitable community,” Major said.

Tulsans can get involved in Zero: 2016 by:

  • Taking a community-wide survey at zero2016tulsa.com,
  • Signing up to become a Zero: 2016 “Ally” or requesting a speaker at zero2016tulsa.com,
  • Following Zero: 2016 Tulsa on Facebook and Twitter,
  • And donating time and financial resources to the organizations that make up A Way Home for Tulsa.
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