New Canadian County task force tackles homeless issue

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The Rev. Tim Baer

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Members of non-profit service agencies, churches, and local and county governments have been meeting regularly to tackle homeless issues in this area.

The Rev. Tim Baer, among members of the Canadian County Homeless Task Force, wants to develop a “holistic” transitional housing program rather than open a homeless shelter.

Fr. Baer, vicar at Grace Church-Episcopal in Yukon, believes the goal should be to help the homeless “get back on their feet” and move toward “self-sufficiency.”

A grant-funded program could help people without a place to live find jobs and permanent housing while addressing addiction issues.

Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart

Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart recently discussed the task force with fellow county commissioners.

“There’s a lot of entities currently involved trying to get it moving forward, trying to address the problem we have,” Stewart said at the May 10th commissioners’ meeting. “And it’s going to get worse as time goes on.

“They’re trying to come up with a plan to address homelessness. They’re trying to figure out how to go forward with this.”

Canadian County Task Force participants include representatives from the Canadian County Commissioners, City of Yukon, City of Oklahoma City, Compassionate Hands, Manna Pantry, Yukon Sharing, Youth & Family Services, United Way, Cardinal Point Family Resource Center, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Red Rock Behavioral Health, Yukon Ministerial Alliance, Veterans Upward Bound at Redlands Community College, Volunteers of America Oklahoma Veterans Employment Services, and The Good Fight Church, and Family Church.

The task force is led by Haley Humphrey, the Mustang News’ editor.

OFF THE STREET

Members want to get the homeless “off the street” and find them permanent, stable housing.

Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said homeless people need more than a hand-out. These individuals need support, training and resources so they do not return to the street after receiving temporary help.

Kyle Woodall, pastor at The Good Fight Church in Yukon, said “you can’t put everybody in the same category of homelessness.”

There are “different aspects of homelessness” that must be identified during the vetting process to determine what services are appropriate for each person, Woodall added.

Canadian County Emergency Manager Andrew Skidmore and Chairman Stewart have participated in recent task force meetings.

Stewart is chairman and Skidmore is secretary on Canadian County’s Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee. That group helps county residents impacted by flooding, tornadoes and other major storms.

“I see a real tie with this group and homelessness,” Stewart said. “There’s a lot of reasons someone can be homeless, not just the fact that they refuse to work.

“We’ve seen that as a result of these different disasters that have occurred. We’re still working cases from all the flooding we had in 2019 and the El Reno tornado.”

Many Canadian County homes were damaged and destroyed during these severe weather events, and Stewart noted some homeowners didn’t have funds needed to repair their properties. The Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee helps displaced residents obtain funding and resources to get back to their homes.

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