At the Dickinson City Commission meeting on December 21, Commissioner John Odermann invited the Southwest Homeless Coalition to present the current situation of homelessness in southwestern North Dakota.
“These ladies and gentlemen do such a wonderful job with this population on a daily basis… that we are not necessarily aware of what Dickinson is facing in terms of population, and I think that is really important to us as a commissioners, namely, ”said Odermann.
Homeless Case Manager Wendy Moffett of Badlands Human Service Center provided the commission with a detailed PowerPoint on what the Southwest Homeless Coalition and all surrounding agencies are trying to do to address the homelessness issue. Statistical data for Region 8, which covers the southwestern corner of the state, reported 177 adults and 43 children to date for the number of homeless cases in need of shelter, Moffett said , explaining that this number varies due to the fact that many homeless people are not counted.
“I believe we see vulnerability in all facets of our society, but especially among the homeless. Homelessness in itself is just a very vulnerable situation. I know all of our social service agencies here in Dickinson are working closely together to try to tackle homelessness and find solutions, ”Moffett noted.
In the last year that Moffett has served, she has worked with many homeless individuals and families.
“I’ve seen people have to resort to completely non-ideal situations because of their homelessness. Not a day goes by that I don’t receive a phone call from someone contacting me who needs help because they’ve been through an adverse life event such as an eviction, death in family, loss of income for one reason or another, ”she said. “And what we’ve found is that a lot of people sleep in their vehicles. You don’t always see it obviously, but if you know where to look and where to go, they’re definitely there. “
Other idle situations that lead to homelessness also include incarceration as it is another way for individuals to seek shelter, Moffett said, adding that some would turn to hospitals and emergency room visits while that others would end up being sent elsewhere to seek shelter as they wait until their funding for housing ends, which can take up to months.
“We have several great programs we’re working on… but it all takes time and it’s not something that someone facing impending homelessness or who is already homeless has to spare. Time is certainly not something they have; they are looking for an immediate solution or a roof over their heads so that they can fix some of these problems.
To alleviate some of the homeless, Moffett suggested to the commission that a pilot project to start a homeless shelter is very necessary and would require municipal funding in the amount of approximately $ 100,000. However, the commission discussed that this should go through a grant meeting to outline the expectations and goals for this project for final approval.
But with the bad weather now in effect in the southwest region, Commissioner Jason Fridrich has proposed that the commission approve at least $ 25,000 to support the pilot project and help those in immediate need.
Fridrich proposed approving $ 25,000 in emergency funding for the Southwest Homeless Coalition, followed by a second from Commissioner John Odermann. The motion was carried unanimously 5-0.