FROM STAFF REPORTS
Concern is growing for those homeless in the Yukon area as a storm with record-low temperatures and heavy snowfall approaches.
Minus 25-degree wind chills are expected Sunday and Monday with a foot of snow.
Yukon’s homeless population has been visible in the last year, city officials have said. The closest homeless shelters are in Oklahoma City, however.
Police have looked for homeless people in Yukon as the temperatures have dropped, and if anyone is found, shelter can be opened, said Mayor Shelli Selby.
Selby said, earlier in the week she started to look for ways to help anyone who is homeless.
“When this all started earlier this week I asked for one of our gyms to be opened for anyone who was homeless. We then sent out our police to look where they are known to live. They could not find any camps currently occupied. If we find people who are living outside or without electricity we will open one of our gyms for shelter. We do not want anyone staying outside in these temperatures. It is too dangerous,” Selby said.
Selby said several local food pantries have coats and blankets accessible, Manna Pantry and Yukon Sharing.
“If you have extra coats or blankets I would suggest checking with your local church or one of the food pantries. My church, West Metro Community Church, works in connection with Feed His Sheep downtown OKC to help feed and clothe the homeless. OKC has so many more resources than we do here in Yukon. ”
Friday, will be the first meeting of the Yukon Homeless Task Force, Selby said.
“We will be looking at what we can do for our homeless population and what solutions can be added. We do not want to just put a Band-Aid on the situation. Many people are homeless because they do not have access to getting a social security card or driver’s license which they need in order to get a job. They don’t have a mailing address which is needed. Some have mental health issues but do not have access to medication. They do not have the right clothing or need a haircut to apply for a job. OKC has the resources to help people with these things. Currently, we don’t. ”
Selby said she has approval for homeless to shower at Jackie Cooper without having to buy a day pass. Often that is holding them back, she said.
“All of this needs to be looked into in order for us to truly help our homeless,” Selby said. “Numerous people from across the City have been asked to help. I look forward to us addressing and helping make a change for our homeless community. ”
Joanne Riley, executive director of Compassionate Hands, said Yukon needs more options to help people.
“I don’t even want an animal to have to live out in this so of course not a human being. It is a discussion that is going to have to involve people on every level,” riley said. “We have all the resources in Yukon to do that.”
She said two vans used by Compassionate Hands take older people and those with disabilities to appointments, errands and other places. Services will be shut down Monday, Feb. 15 and has had to cancel rides this week due to icy weather. She has also had drivers help people get to their appointments for COVID-19 vaccines.
David Norton posted on “Yukon Happenings” social media, “Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas are needing places to house the homeless during this frigid weather. If you have a building they can stay in or know someone who does, please call the Homeless Alliance. Their number is (405) 415-8410.”
Norton said there is only one shelter he knows of that allows pets.
Yukon Sharing Ministry is open at 4 N. Sixth in Yukon. The ministry provides food, clothing and blankets to local homeless people. They have been busy this week, said Executive Director Missy King.
“We are going to be open today, (Thursday) and we will make sure we are open Friday for people who need clothes and blankets,” King said.
The number of people coming in increased as weather turned wintry this week.
“And we have already helped people with food and clothing blankets who have come in,” King said.
Donations are taken at the ministry.
“We can always use more donations,” King said.
A number of homeless people have been seen living in Yukon along State Highway 66, police said. There has not been a noticeable increase in the homeless population during the pandemic however, but the population has been about the same in certain undeveloped areas, police sad.
Officials at Yukon Sharing Ministry told The Yukon Progress in March, as the pandemic began, that there are a number of homeless people in Yukon, but a limited number of resources available.
A temporary shelter has been opened at 1400 N.W. 3 in Oklahoma City in the old Willard School, the Homeless Alliance announced. Efforts are also underway to gather more winter gear, coats blankets etc. in the area.
The Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City reported Thursday, “With the life-threatening cold predicted to last for days and possibly weeks, we want to keep you up to date on resources available for people experiencing homelessness and also our needs.”
“Our Day Shelter will be open during the day for people to come in and warm up with breakfast, lunch, and showers (1729 NW 3rd). While we don’t typically have the budget to operate 7-days a week, we will be open every day for at least the next two weeks to allow people to get out of the cold.”