Sen. Kevin Matthews is inviting the public to an open house and reception for a new educational opportunity to help former justice-involved Oklahomans rebuild their lives. Matthews, D-Tulsa, has been collaborating with multiple organizations to start the North Tulsa Community Construction School, slated to open next month. Matthews said there would be a pre-opening reception and press conference on Monday, Jan. 17, at 3 p.m. at 3304 North Delaware Avenue, one block south of the Tulsa Police Uniform North Division.
Matthews explained the concept behind the new school.
“When people come home from prison, they often need housing and to make enough money to pay their fines and living expenses as they transition,” Matthews said. “So, we formed a board and support team which includes Urban Innovative Development Corporation, the 1st Step Male Diversion Program, David Collins of Fenix Construction Group, Carl Walker and Carl’s Contractors, and Meals on Wheels, which is sponsoring food for participants.”
Matthews said not only would participants be able to learn a construction trade to make a decent living upwards of $25 an hour, but they will also be part of creating new homeowners in affordable housing being built in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity planned over the next three years in north Tulsa and other communities.
Matthews, who authored legislation for affordable housing tax credits, had a goal of creating more homeowners, which drives much needed retail to the area.
“After the school is operational and successful in our community, I’ll also be working with other groups to possibly add truck driving and tech certifications as other options for those returning from prison, as well as for youth ages 16 to 24 that may not be college-bound,” Matthews said. “Most of us doing this work are second chance folks giving others an opportunity for a second chance and more options for those who may not be taking traditional routes to make a living.”