Homeless in Oklahoma City - Voucher Program Gives True Assistance

Homeless
••• Photo: Dennie Cody and Duangkamon / Getty Images

Many people say that the world is a cruel place. And while that may be true in plenty of ways, there is also a lot of love out there. Organizations make it their mission to provide assistance to unfortunate people such as the homeless in Oklahoma City. For many of us, feelings of helplessness are inevitable as we survey the suffering.

But how can we help?  Well, that's where a voucher program from the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance comes into play.

 It gives us the tools to assist, but in the best way.  Here are all the details you need to know about the homeless vouchers.

The Purpose

Just as in every large city in the country, the OKC metro area has its share of homeless and other disadvantaged.  Walking along downtown, you may encounter a homeless person and slip him or her a few bucks if you're a kindly soul. Or perhaps you just walked right by.  It's difficult to fault someone for that reaction. After all, there are potential dangers best to avoid. Beyond that, who's to even say your donation or assistance is actually needed or will be put to good use? It's a warranted concern that the few bucks you provide will only be spent on alcohol or drugs.

So, with the goal of cutting down on panhandling and providing true assistance to the homeless in Oklahoma, the OKC Homeless Alliance partnered with Downtown OKC, Inc. to create Project: Real Change in 2005.

The Program

The program is relatively simple. Anyone want to help the homeless can purchase vouchers rather than handing over their cash. The vouchers are good for food and shelter, along with a bus ticket to one of the downtown homeless shelters. Detailed instructions are provided for the recipient of the voucher, and they are provided a trip to the City Rescue Mission, Grace Rescue Mission or The Salvation Army.

 The vouchers also include phone numbers for specialty shelters if needed.

Cost and Where to Buy

Books of five Real Change vouchers are sold for only $5 and also includes tips on how to handle a begging situation in the effort of combating panhandling.

Vouchers are currently available:

  • Online using PayPal
  • By mailing check payment and an order form.
  • In person at the Homeless Alliance downtown office - 1724 NW 4th Street 

Progress

Since its launch in 2005, the Real Change Oklahoma City homeless voucher program has been successful.  According to organizers, it has decreased panhandling because many panhandlers aren't actually seeking help for homelessness, so as more metro residents offer only the vouchers instead of cash, the incentive to panhandle is reduced.