Tulsa homeless shelter reaches out to the community after its rent nearly doubles

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa homeless shelter may have to close because its rent has nearly doubled.

The Merchant Tulsa has just a couple of weeks to come up with the money.

Paul Schmidt runs the shelter, and he’s very emotional about the thought of it closing.

“It’s hard to think about, to talk about, just for the fact that these are our friends. They’re not clients, we don’t have clients here, we have friends. And just for them to not have a place for them to come in when it’s raining that they can come in when it’s cold… if that’s gone I don’t know what’s going to happen to a bunch of the.”

The rent is jumping from $3,400 a month to $5,800. That’s a $2,400 increase.

“Kind of a punch to the gut … yeah it hurt because we weren’t expecting at kind of a an increase. We were prepared for maybe a thousand a month more,” said Schmidt.

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He says the building’s owner had to put the rent up because of the economy, but he says it comes at a time when donations have been scarce.

“2021 it started slowing down, and now with the economy where it is gas at 3 something a gallon with food going up, I mean they’ve gotta feed their families they’ve gotta drive their cars and in that the donations have gone down again. With donations going down and all of a sudden raising rent those two things erupted rapidly.”

The Merchant is a nonprofit and has stood at 6th and Peoria for five years. They’ve housed up to 200 people during the two hours they’re open. They are open 4 days a week, offering a place to shower, use the internet, and get help with identification and housing.

All vital services to those who are homeless.

“We don’t care if you’re high, we don’t care if you’re drunk, we don’t care what. We want you to come to us so we can help you…. If it’s gone it’s going to be gone and that’s going to be a big hole that’s right now being filled,” said Schmidt.

Right now, Schmidt is looking for people and businesses to partner with to raise the money for rent.

“If we can’t raise the funds for it, we will basically have to close the doors because I can’t sign a contract that I can’t pay for. We want to keep this place open for the people… we want to be be able to help them move up and out of homelessness.”

Schmidt says before the rent was raised, they had plans to expand the facility, to add a kitchen and a dining room. Now, that’s been put on hold.

If you’d like to help, you can find more information on The Merchant’s website.