Finding help for the homeless in Carter County - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Finding help for the homeless in Carter County

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Homeless men get help in Ardmore. (KTEN) Homeless men get help in Ardmore. (KTEN)
The Grace Day Center helps the homeless in Ardmore. (KTEN) The Grace Day Center helps the homeless in Ardmore. (KTEN)

ARDMORE, Okla. -- The homeless population is rising in Carter County. Many are also dealing with mental health issues.

There are limited resources to help them.

"We're seeing more clients here at the Grace Center, and I know that other resources in Ardmore and southern Oklahoma are seeing an increase of need for services," said Grace Day Center director Karlie Harper.

Many who reach out for help suffer from some form of mental illness. 

"We definitely have many clients who come in that either have severe mental illness, which would be like your schizophrenia or bipolar," Harper said.

That, in turn, pushes some homeless into the criminal justice system.

"We try to help them get the needed help that they need, and what we try to do is offer a variety of resources through mental health resources," Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant said.

Unfortunately, many of those resources are inaccessible or under-funded.

"The biggest problem is definitely lack of access to mental health care," Harper said. "We have Lighthouse Behavioral Wellness, but they're only able to do so much, and there's a greater need than there is resources."

"You've got to be able to have a system in place in your community or around the county -- and that goes for the whole state as well -- to where you have unlimited resources in order to help these folks," Sheriff Bryant added.

Those who deal with these situations say it's important to remember that homeless people dealing with mental illness face challenges we can't even see.

"They're doing the best that they can with what they have to work with," Harper said. "I think people get stuck in that 'Why don't they just get a job' mentality, but for people with mental illness, it's not as easy as that."

You can help out by donating time or goods to your local homeless shelter.

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