When Summer Feels Like Winter — Pastor Steve Shares Concerns
I know it’s hot outside, but there is a cold wind blowing through the Tulsa community right now. That cold wind is news that the number of homeless on our city’s streets is up nearly 10% over last year.
That’s a staggering number. I can assure you that we at John 3:16 Mission – with YOUR help – have done everything in our power to meet the needs of the homeless of Tulsa and yet we cannot deny the facts.
Just minutes before writing this, I was in a meeting with the other Homeless Shelter Directors of Tulsa (The Salvation Army, Tulsa County Shelter & Day Center). We sat around the table here at John 3:16 and reflected on the problem. All of us are seeing our numbers spiking and shelters filled every night.
This is a phenomenon we normally only see in the cold winter months.
Typically, in summertime, our numbers subside a little as some homeless people choose to remain outdoors. Staying outside, may not be comfortable, but a hot summer night is survivable whereas a cold winter’s night may not be.
We speculated on what’s driving the increase. One thing I keep coming back to is the fact that Tulsa has one of the highest eviction rates in the nation. The simple fact is that a $10/hour job, though it may be good work, is not enough to cover a person’s expenses, especially rising rents. Too many are finding themselves in dire financial straits even while working. Some of them end up on our streets.
And here’s the thing: By and large, these people are from OUR community.
Only a small percentage are passing through. What’s the answer to the increase in numbers? Probably another shelter for the homeless – or expanded shelters among providers like John 3:16 Mission.
But there’s a problem with adding shelter space – NIMBY-ism (Not In My Back Yard). With exciting growth and development around Tulsa, especially downtown, people don’t want a homeless shelter nearby. So, we have a huge challenge in front of us.
Still, I’m convinced our best days are ahead of us at John 3:16 Mission. I believe this because we have an incredible staff of committed Christian professionals who are working hard on solutions that will benefit our entire community.
Are we having Wintertime numbers in Summertime? Yes. However, together with your generous support, we will find the answers. The God of loaves and fishes, the One who fed the 5,000 is working with us, too. And, here is one thing we know for sure: He has never failed His people, even when the cold winds blow in the middle of summer.