Sisu is a low-barrier, identity-affirming space in Oklahoma City where unhoused transition-age youth find the shelter and support they need to pursue the life they want. We offer overnight shelter, clothing, hot meals, transitional living, and case management services for unhoused youth between the ages of 15-24. We focus daily on creating a culture of inclusivity and hope. It is an honor to provide young people with the support they deserve while they are forging their path into adulthood.
Sisu provides a low-barrier emergency shelter for youth experiencing homelessness ages 15-22. We have a 16-bed facility open each weekday from 4 pm - 9 am and all day Saturday and Sunday. Sisu focuses on providing affirming support to the LGBTQ+ community and ensuring that ALL are welcome at Sisu. At the shelter, youth have access to a hot breakfast, sack lunch, and hot dinner each day. There are showers, a clothing closet, laundry, a food pantry, and mentorship opportunities. Additionally, Sisu partners with several community providers to bring resources to our clients such as education, mental healthcare, life skills, and employment opportunities. Once in shelter, youth may reserve their space by making their bed each morning. Youth may stay at Sisu’s shelter until a more stable housing option is identified; there is not a hard limit on the length of their stay. Through shelter, Sisu serves approximately 300 unique clients each year.
The drop-in center is often the gateway to service connection for young people experiencing homelessness. Sisu provides a low-barrier drop-in shelter for youth ages 15-24. Youth may access the clothing closet, a hot meal, food pantry, toiletries, laundry, and showers through the drop-in center. Community mental healthcare providers are available for outreach during drop-in to help facilitate service connection. Sisu’s services do not have any requirements like identification, sobriety, clean criminal record, etc, but are instead focused on serving everyone. Though COVID has affected the number of drop-in clients accessing services, we serve approximately 200 clients per year.
Quest Transitional Living Program (TLP)
Launched in 2022, this program will provide case management services to young people while providing them with an independent, scattered-site housing option. This program will serve 16 youth ages 16-21 for 12-24 months.
Atlas Supervised Transitional Living Program (sTLP)
Atlas is a new, semi-independent living program providing young people
at high risk for homelessness with the support they need to pursue the
life they want. This program emphasizes gaining job and life skills with a
focus on achieving stable employment and housing. Atlas is apartment-
based with dedicated case management and 24/7 staff support and
supervision. Participants will be provided with housing at no cost and a
full schedule of classes and groups. This program is a transitional
housing model with most clients staying approximately 6 months, and will serve youth ages 18-24. Learn more here.
Sisu has successfully served 4 youth through Basic Center’s Host Home program. This opportunity will continue in 2022 through our TLP grant award. We will offer four host home placements each year over the next three years. This program will provide case management services to young people while offering shelter through a host home placement. Hosts offer mentorship and a spare room in their home for a youth to live temporarily while they gather resources and develop the skills needed to successfully transition into independent adulthood. This program will serve youth ages 16-21 up to 24 months.
Historically, Sisu was able to offer case management to our shelter clients only. Through new grants and funding sources, Sisu now has five dedicated case managers to provide support to shelter clients and those youth accessing any of our other services or experiencing housing instability. Following the tenets of Housing First for Youth, Sisu works to separate each youth’s support services from their shelter - one is not needed to obtain the other. By connecting youth to a case manager that will accompany them from the shelter and into one (or more) of the various housing options available to them, clients and case managers build trust and stability. This centralized method of case management is shown to improve outcomes.
Case managers can help navigate education, employment, housing, life skills, resource connection, mental and physical health support, identity documents, the justice system, family relationships, enrichment activities, life skills, and any other barriers on a young person’s path to success.
Education / Life Skills / Enrichment
We have found that life skills programming is necessary to help youth who are moving into stable and permanent housing become active members of the community. Sisu’s Education Specialist assists in enrollment, transportation, tutoring, and overall navigation of the educational system. In the fall 2021 semester, Sisu assisted with enrolling or re-enrolling 18 students into high school and assisted another 6 with college enrollment and financial aid applications.
Additionally, we partner with Opportunities Industrialization Center to provide life skills, GED prep, and vocational training. In Poetry and Chill sessions, youth are empowered to learn and practice communication skills through rap and poetry. The Central Oklahoma Workforce Innovation Board offers unhoused youth help in obtaining a living-wage job with a focus on learning on-the-job skills. Sisu is currently a worksite for COWIB, providing on-site work opportunities to assist youth in developing employment skills while earning real income and experience. Calm Waters and Northcare provide further life skills classes, enrichment, and support groups to youth accessing drop-in and shelter services.