Tulsa-area homeless shelters already filling up as temperatures drop

Tulsa-area homeless shelters already filling up as temperatures drop (KTUL)

The streets of Tulsa are cold, and living on them can be a challenge.

Something Robert Cox, who's been homeless for years, knows a little about.

"I walk around a lot," said Cox. "Other than that, I end up in jail or one of the homeless centers, but most times, I'm just walking."

A harder lesson for Jacob and Ashley, who became homeless just this month. Staying huddled under blankets works, but just barely.

"It' gets rough out here, man. It's hard," said Jacob.

And the cold weather is just getting started. Reverend Steve Whitaker with John 3:16 Mission said his job now is keeping people alive.

"It's not a matter of if they stay out and get too cold, it's a matter of when," said Whitaker. "In the next few nights, we're going to be down well into the thirties. And that's not just cold, it's killer cold."

John 3:16 is one of several places around town for the homeless. Here, you can find warm clothes, a hot meal and a place to sleep. But there's a problem.

The shelter has several dorms set aside for the homeless, but they're all full. But that doesn't mean people will be turned away. They say if things get too bad, they have a backup plan ready to go. The mission has an overflow shelter that can hold up to a hundred extra people.

Over at the Salvation Army Tulsa, Captain Ken Chapman said things aren't much better.

"We have the largest shelter in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and it's built for 155 beds, but we have 325 a night staying there," said Chapman.

Chapman said when things are this bad, people sleep wherever they can.

"In the hallways, in the classrooms, in the chapel. in the dining room, just all over the place," said Chapman. "And in any given night, when you have over 300 there, 60 of them are children."

But like John 3:16, the Salvation Army won't turn anyone away.

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