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Silent. That is what Mayor G.T Bynum was when the city of Tulsa depended on him the most.
When homelessness started rising in Tulsa, some were upset that they resided on streets and sidewalks. With the increase of impoverished people on the streets, local businesses complained of lost customers. Some customers complained they could not enjoy meals at their favorite restaurants, forcing them to take their orders to go. Not being able to enjoy the beautiful Tulsa atmosphere, they became frustrated with Mayor Bynum for not taking immediate action.
Tulsans looked to the mayor to be their voice, yet he remained voiceless.
After spending months in the hot seat, Mayor Bynum finally decided to address the issue. He worked alongside community organizations to help place homeless people into housing, sheltering them so they would not reside on the streets and sidewalks.
In 2020, Mayor Bynum welcomed Tulsa Housing Solutions, housing alternatives for the impoverished. In addition, the city recruited a housing policy administrator to get the homeless better living situations.
Ordinance criminalizes homelessness
According to Tulsa Housing Solutions, “On January 27, 2022, a total of 1,063 individuals, including children, were experiencing homelessness in Tulsa.” Given the 2% increase in homelessness in the past year, it was time for Mayor Bynum to step up and do something to address this matter. Therefore, Bynum set forth an ordinance that would take a complex viewpoint to address the homeless population, which is now being amended.
The ordinance permits police officers to remove people blocking stores and sidewalks. According to the mandate, homeless people would receive fines and can go to prison if caught on sidewalks. While some Tulsans supported the ordinance, others believed it crossed the line and violated the rights of homeless people. It’s unclear how fining homeless people would accomplish anything other than a continued cycle of poverty.
Following backlash, officials prepared an updated version, specifying the ordinance’s purpose while also addressing any questions and concerns.
The changes include:
- Revising the locations where the edict pertains.
- Depicting the expression “public right-of-way”.
- Establishing a list of qualified sentences for violations of the enactment.
Does this solve the homelessness problem?
Unlike many citizens of Tulsa, the impoverished do not have a nice place to sleep or a family to see at night. So they rest on the streets and sidewalks, hoping to come across someone who can give them a better life, a second chance. However, with the new ordinance, they would be fined and face prison time if seen on the streets and sidewalks. How can they strive for a better life when being penalized for a living?
If you are not going to be a voice for the people, why be a voice at all?