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Poll: Tulsans Give City Council Failing Grade on Homelessness

Poll: Tulsans Give City Council Failing Grade on Homelessness


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Contact: Stefani Buhajla | [email protected] | 386-681-7625

85% of Tulsans either harbor doubts or disapprove of the City Council’s efforts to address homelessness

TULSA, OK, OCT 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – A new poll of likely voters in the Tulsa metropolitan area reveals a lack of confidence in the Tulsa City Council to address the city’s rising homelessness crisis, with 85 percent of Tulsans either harboring doubts or disapproving of the way the Council is addressing homelessness and street sleeping, which 70 percent view as a threat to public safety.

The poll, conducted by the Cicero Institute, comes on the heels of the recent passage of the $814 million Improve Our Tulsa package, which makes a significant $75 million investment toward the $104.2 million Tulsa Housing Initiative that will focus on shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. Absent from the city’s housing-centric approach are efforts and
additional resources to address what 58 percent of Tulsans see as the root causes of homelessness – addiction and mental illness.

Commenting on the poll, Cicero Institute’s Director of Communications, Stefani Buhajla, told Tulsa World that “voters want to know that their communities are safe. They think their leaders should be held accountable for how they spend their homelessness funding. They want full transparency there.” Notably, 80 percent of Tulsans avoid areas where homeless individuals live on the streets, with 56 percent usually or always steering clear of these locations. The Tulsa Housing, Homelessness & Mental Health Task Force recently put forth nine policy recommendations to address homelessness. These included two ordinances to provide local law enforcement the tools needed to keep public rights of way free of encampments and local communities safer. Specifically, these ordinances give law enforcement the authority, after a warning, to ticket or arrest an individual for obstructing a sidewalk, as well as increase the penalties for trespassing.


Highlights from the poll include:

  • 77% have observed a persistent rise in homelessness in Tulsa.
  • 80% avoid areas where homeless individuals live on the streets; 56% usually or always steer
    clear of these locations.
  • 70% view homeless encampments as a threat to public safety.
  • 66% support a prohibition on street camping.
  • 58% of Tulsans see addiction and mental illness as the root causes of homelessness,
    compared to a lack of affordable housing at 13%.
  • 53% see mental health and substance abuse recovery programs as more effective in reducing
    long-term homelessness than subsidized housing, which garners a mere 16%.