The city of Tahlequah will host a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, at the Armory Municipal Center regarding the complex topic of homelessness in this area, which is said to have increased over time and that growth is impacting the city.
"There are some conversations that belong to the community. These tend to be complex topics that don't have an easy or single answer," said Mayor Sue Catron. "Homelessness in Tahlequah is one of those topics and we would like to talk about ways to change our current pattern."
There are a number of entities and individuals who are working to address immediate needs, according to Catron, and there are those who are working to help homeless individuals develop resources and skills to move back into a more stable environment.
"We have some who are working to keep individuals from falling into homeless status. And we have some who are, by necessity, reacting to issues caused by individuals to keep the city safe," she added.
Chief of Police Nate King echoed that in saying the purpose of the community meeting is to "gather information in regard to the problems Tahlequah is facing associated with the homeless and listen to ideas to address these issues," adding that it takes everyone to make Tahlequah the best it can be.
"The city values the perspective of its citizens and understands each perspective is unique, and we desire to have all information available so a plan can be formulated and implemented that will address the interests of all parties effected," King said.
He suggested those who should attend could be business owners, service providers, any concerned residents, neighbors, and the homeless.
In the end, city officials hope that this gathering of information from the public will assist in molding the approach of the city to this rising issue.
"We want to invite the individuals and entities that are interested and involved with the homeless population into a conversation, hoping to develop a picture of what a complete, coordinated homeless program within Tahlequah might be," Catron said.
"The group would then identify which pieces of that puzzle currently exist, and which may be needed. Once needs are identified, then the search for resources and solutions can begin."