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Published June 19, 2012, 10:21 PM

Northlands Rescue Mission Sees Dramatic Increase in Those Needing Help

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota's low unemployment rate and booming oil fields aren't necessarily good news for some here in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota's low unemployment rate and booming oil fields aren't necessarily good news for some here in Grand Forks.

The Northlands Rescue Mission is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people who need help. More people are moving to North Dakota looking for work. But once they get here, they have no place to stay.

"We didn't expect those numbers. It had been fairly steady, about 105 to 110 for almost a year now," Executive Director David Sena said.

But now that number has jumped to 125. On Monday night, nine new people checked into the Northlands Rescue Mission and only four checked out. Six people are sleeping on the floor of a conference room.

"We're having to put beds in the two man rooms, three man rooms, four man rooms. On the floor on mattresses and pads, and we've never done that before," Mission resident Mark Johnstone said.

If just two or three more people check in, the shelter will have to start a waiting list, which is something it's never done before.

"If they had to start a waiting list here, you'd definitely be on the street," Mission resident James Bailey said.

Numbers usually thin out during the summer months, but more people are coming to North Dakota from across the country because they hear we have jobs.

"Our message to all of them is unless you have a job already here to find, please don't come, stay where you have a good support system because a lot of people aren't qualified for the jobs here, whether it's for the oil fields or other ones," Sena said.

People staying at the mission have found out first-hand that jobs and housing aren't that easy to find here.

"The jobs are here but it's just as far as places to stay, it's very scarce," Johnstone said.

"Resources here are very, very thin. It's very hard for people to find housing and actually even find a roof, or even a hot meal," Bailey said.

The sudden overflow at the mission is putting a strain on supplies, food, and staff.

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