To the editors:

What does it mean to be an Oklahoman? Oklahomans take care of our own, and we see this each year as the storms roll in — neighbors helping neighbors. It’s who we are and how we are built.

Oklahoma is also perennially listed as one of the best places for veterans in the United States. Oklahomans love and support our military, at least the ones who aren’t homeless. Finding a true Oklahoman that opposes helping a veteran out would be nearly impossible to find, because it’s our nature to help each other. We all want it, we all support it, we just don’t want to pay for it, and we don’t want it in our backyard.

Recently, the Oklahoma City Council indefinitely deferred an ordinance to cite and remove the homeless from any public lands. According to the most recent counts, the city has just under 1,400 homeless and less than 850 temporary beds to house them. Of those, about 10 percent are estimated to be veterans.

A nonprofit group, the Veterans Community Project, has plans to provide a home and services to 50 veterans. The project is proposed for the OKC Capital View neighborhood close to the VA Medical Center and transportation hubs. The development is much more than just tiny homes. Similar to other veteran campuses across the country, these villages provide a sense of camaraderie as well as easy access to medical, mental health services and employment services. All of this is at no cost to the government. It will cost you nothing. Whether you live in the Capital View neighborhood or in Lawton, the cost is exactly zero tax dollars.

Residents of the OKC neighborhood have voiced their concerns related to the loss of property values. In a recent Fox 25 report, one Capital View neighbor complained about already seeing homeless walking up and down her street. As a result, the group has paused its plan to develop the land while they attempt to get community support. Project organizers, instead, see the value in building partnerships with the proposed community. As a homeowner, I’m always concerned about home values, but these villages do not bring down the values of the surrounding homes. A quick look at similar developments in Arizona and Colorado, and the Community Veteran Project site in Missouri shows the opposite. Values have gone up.

As a veteran and an Oklahoman, I ask the residents of Capital View to do the Oklahoma thing and help a neighbor. I ask other communities in Oklahoma to do the same and be an example for the rest of the country on how to treat our veterans. The opportunity is here for us to help a neighbor in a storm. We can do it at no cost.

Very respectfully,

Jeff Harris
Lawton, Oklahoma

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