2008 Homeless Study

Each year, Oklahoma city takes one day to count and survey every homeless person in the city. The most recent “Point-in-Time” count of the homeless was conducted on January 31, 2008. The intention of this count was to provide a snapshot picture of homelessness in Oklahoma City, of both the number of homeless people and their characteristics. A large team of community volunteers from more than ten organizations surveyed homeless persons in emergency homeless shelters, transitional housing facilities, hot meal sites, crisis facilities such as hospitals and the jail, encampments, and various street locations.

The Point-in-Time count yields valuable data to help service providers understand how many local people are homeless and what kinds of needs they have. This information aids in planning Oklahoma City’s services and programs to feed and shelter the population as well as to help them find affordable housing, access transportation, receive rehabilitation and counseling, find employment, and improve their skills through education and training.

Results
Results showed that Oklahoma City had a high rate of chronic homelessness. A chronically homeless person is, according to HUD’s definition, an individual with a disabling condition who has been continually homeless for one year or more or has had four or more episodes of homelessness within the last three years. On January 31, 304 people counted in emergency shelters, in crisis facilities, and on the streets met this definition. Eleven percent of all people counted had been homeless at least one year, with 19% having been homeless for two or more years.

Special Needs
Of adults responding to special needs questions:

23% were chronically homeless by HUD’s definition
33% report mental illness
43% report substance abuse
19% report physical illness or disability
Current results show a total of 1415 homeless people counted on the night of January 31, 2008.

*The Point-in-Time count was a joint project of the City of Oklahoma City, the Coalition for the Needy, and the Homeless Alliance.

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The Active Living God

Two weeks ago, following the conclusion of the school store, I witnessed a fulfilled dream…

It wasn’t my dream. I was just blessed to be one of the people in the dream.

One of Cross and Crown’s regular volunteers pulled me aside a few weeks ago and informed me that he had experienced a dream the night before that involved myself, Ron and a couple of the youth from Rock Island. In his dream he explained that he knew how many of the young people from the neighborhood came to Rock Island, the youth center, with the mindset of receiving something. In other words, to get something we had to offer. Whether they came for food, games, entertainment or something else, he understood that, like most other youth centers/youth groups, the kids came to receive something we had to offer them. As a side note, this isn’t a bad thing. Kids that come to play games, eat our food or be entertained are really just falling into our trap! We really want them to find out about Jesus, but don’t tell anyone.

Next, he talked about how he understood that Ron and I did a fair amount of pouring into the kids and how that can be draining, which I gave a strong, “Amen”, to. He told us that there would be two of the youth that wouldn’t just come to get, get, get….but that would bless both Ron and I and be a blessing to us. Two that would bless us. He went on to name one of the boys from our group, specifically, who was in the dream and was to play a key role. He also informed us that there was another young man in the dream who was also to play a prominent role. He said he was unable to identify who the other young man was and said it may not be any of the kids that currently were involved with us at Rock Island.

As he went on to describe the dream he told us that Ron and I would be praying with the kids in a group. He said that during the prayer the young man, whom he named, would be by my side or next to me. During the prayer both the young men he told us of were to bless us, to lift us up.

So, here we go.

A couple weeks back following the conclusion of Cross and Crown’s school store, after being physically and mentally drained mostly because of youth overload, Ron and I decided to rally up the youth that were helping for the day. We told them that we would finish up the day by cleaning up, getting some snacks, praying and heading home. As we started to clean up a couple boys from a youth group in Edmond showed up to help out. They have been coming off and on over the course of the summer and have been a pleasure to be around. So, we cleaned, got snacks and the kids grabbed a seat so we could debrief and pray. After a couple minutes of talking about the weeks experiences we figured it was time to wrap up and ask God’s blessing over the rest of the week and the upcoming school year.

I started the prayer and asked for God’s covering for the upcoming school year and for blessings over each of the kids. Then before Ron finished up the prayer he left a gap for any of the youth to pray that felt led. Now, let me clarify something before I carry on with the story. 90% of the youth that come to Cross and Crown or Rock Island haven’t been to “church”. They haven’t grown up in Christian homes, been instructed how to pray or been around people that pray on a regular basis like most of us have. What this means is they haven’t developed ideas or “common prayer topics”, I’ll call them, to pray about….like traditional prayers, such as, “God, thank you for this day”, “God, thank you for your blessings over…”, “God, please bless this family with a sick relative…”, or, “God, please be with me during this situation…”. Which makes what I am about to say even more incredible.

The young man, who was identified by name and said to be sitting next to me or by my side, was doing just that. He was sitting directly next to me while all the other kids were spread out sporadically throughout the sanctuary. He then went on to say the following, “God thank you for the school store and the bookbags we were all able to get for school…Thank you for Luke and Ron and all their hard work and I ask for your blessings upon them and their families. I ask that your face shine upon then and bless them”………….

I ask for your face to shine upon them? I ask you to bless them and their families? Wow. Quite possibly one of the biggest, largest blessings of a prayer, that I am aware of, that has ever been prayed for me. But, that’s not the end. Next, after he had finished praying, one of the young men from the youth group in Edmond began to pray. He prayed a very similar prayer. He prayed for Ron and I and the work we were apart of at Rock Island with the kids. What a blessing.

Initially I didn’t connect this event with the dream that had been described to me. Hello!!! The reason the man who had the dream couldn’t identify the other young man who was going to pray for us is because he has never met or seen him. In his dream he just saw that there were going to be two young men. One he knew, the other he didn’t.

I’m not sure when I finally realized that the dream that was to happen…just unravelled right in front of me. But, regardless of when it was that I finally figured it out, I definitely felt the power and presence of God.

I don’t tell this story to make it sound like I am anything special, because I am not. I tell this story to be an encouragement to you who read this. Know that our God is the living and active God. He still does those “edgy”, “old-testament”, “why doesn’t God still work like he used to” in the old days, things. God doesn’t just want to be apart of our Sunday services and church get-togethers. He wants to be apart of every aspect of our lives. Be encouraged and know that if you desire to feel God’s presence, He’s ready. Ask.

Luke