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For Release:  Jan. 12, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Oklahoma Health Equities Campaign to Discuss Homelessness in Central OK

The Oklahoma Health Equity and Resource Opportunities (HERO) initiative will discuss “Homelessness in Central Oklahoma” at their meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, at 10 a.m. in Room 314 of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), 1000 N.E. 10th St. in Oklahoma City.  The public is invited to attend.

The guest speaker is the Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance, Dan Straughan.  Straughan has helped build the community’s capacity to better care for the homeless. His innovations include sharing data and creating community standards for homeless shelters, developing a free, bus-based transportation system for the homeless,  and developing the WestTown Resource Center to provide a “one-stop shop” of comprehensive services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

Straughan will provide demographic information on homelessness in central Oklahoma and the problems faced in getting access to health care by people living in poverty. A lack of access to health care is a social determinant that often leads to homelessness. Other social determinants of health include availability of food supply, housing, economic and social relationships, transportation, education, and health care, all of which can determine the length and quality of life.

Straughan will discuss “best practices” in other communities and how they are used to try to address issues of the homeless in Oklahoma City. There are approximately 1,500 homeless in Oklahoma City every night and an additional 7,500 “couch homeless,” i.e., people who have lost their own housing but are staying with relatives, friends, or others. 

“Health equity in public health literature and practice is when everyone has the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance,” said OSDH HERO Director Marisa New Wells.

If you live outside the Oklahoma City metropolitan area and would like to attend the January 21st meeting, videoconference locations are available in some communities. Please contact your closest county health department listed below or call the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

  • Carter County Health Department - 405 S. Washington, Ardmore, (580) 223-9705, Contact - Sharon Ford
  • Tulsa County Health Department - 5051 S. 129th East Ave. Tulsa, (918) 595-4471, Contact - Deidre Stanley
  • Cleveland County Health Department  - 250 12th Ave. N.E. Norman,  (405) 366-3407, Contact Amanda James
  • Ottawa County Health Department - 1930 North Elm Miami, (918) 540-2481, Contact Sharon Hines-Ice
  • Rogers County Health Department - 2664 N. Highway 88, Unit A Claremore, (918) 341-3166, Contact Linda DeSpain
  • Johnston County Health Department - 1080 South Byrd, Tishomingo, (580) 371-2470, Contact Janie Robinson

To learn more about upcoming HERO events, call Marisa New Wells at (405) 271-9444, ext. 56410, or e-mail marisan@health.ok.gov


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