Despite lack of homeless data, local churches, clubs offer assistance

Editor’s note: This is the second story in a four-part series about homelessness in Mustang. The series explores limited services for people experiencing homelessness in the area, and sheds light to one man’s journey.

In the distance, a person walks in frigid temperatures near Bluff Creek Park in Oklahoma City. Because there is not an adult homeless shelter in Canadian County, Yukon Police Department officers remained at the ready last week to transport people experiencing homelessness to shelters and warming stations in the metro. Mustang police officers did not transport anyone to shelter facilities in Oklahoma City, Chief Robert Groseclose said. However, Mustang officers often inform people about services, like the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, which provides hot meals and clothing. Photo / Kaylan Henley

 

Although concrete data of people experiencing homelessness throughout Mustang is nonexistent, Mustang Kiwanis Club saw an increase in clients using their food pantry throughout December 2020.
“We’re not prepared very well for homeless because our food pantries are often canned or boxed goods that you need to cook, one way or another,” said Jim Harris, pastor at Clear Springs Church in Mustang.
Ten families used the pantry throughout the week of Dec. 7, 2020. Mustang Kiwanis Club President Luke Ellis said he’s also seen more single adults recently, rather than children, which is abnormal for the club.
While the pantry is open once a month from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on a given Saturday, Ellis said the club’s volunteers will meet clients at the pantry for emergency calls. They typically receive one call a month for an emergency.
The club primarily receives nonperishable food items from Mus-tang Public Schools, as well as donations its volunteers gather.
Mustang Kiwanis isn’t the only organization in the city that serves homeless people. The Bridge Church in Mustang also offers assistance.
While pastor Ken Ison said he helps people, who are having financial problems and some runaway children, he does not think there are many homeless people in Mustang.
The Bridge has a Loaves and Fishes ministry, which provides food to about 60 families per week.
Through one of the church’s programs, housing, which is located in Oklahoma City, is offered to people transitioning out of serving time in jail.
People must secure a job in order to qualify for the housing, as they must pay a rent stipend of $75 a week, as well as attending Bible study sessions and other activities through the church, Ison said.
The housing is not long-term. It is meant for people to be able to secure identification, like a driver’s license, Ison said.
There were five people living in the housing at the end of 2020. About 20 were residents before the pandemic.
Ison said The Bridge takes about 10 people to the housing a year. The pastor said he does not believe Mustang needs a homeless shelter.
Other local churches, like Empowered Church, also said they have not served many Mustang residents who are experiencing homelessness. Pastor Michael Ray, who is also Ward 1 for Mustang City Council, said he has seen less than a handful of people who have come to the church for help.
He said he has served more people with substance abuse through one of the church’s programs.
“I’m pretty sure if someone hooked them up with a church, they’re getting involved in something and getting help before it probably even comes to the city side,” said Ray.
There are more than 20 churches in the area.
Several other city officials, including current Mayor Jess Schweinberg and Mayor-elect Brian Grider said they do not believe the city has a homeless population. However, it has not been looked into by the council.
“I hope we don’t,” said Grider.

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