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Local shelters looking to help displaced homeless

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)—After a number of homeless shelters in the western part of the state shut down, others closer to home are trying to pick up the slack, but it’s a tough process as winter is quickly approaching.

Ever since the Ruth Meier Hospitality Home in Bismarck shut its doors unexpectedly in October, shelters across the state including the Northlands Rescue Mission in Grand Forks have been trying to figure out what to do with people left out in the cold.

It’s a difficult situation with no one simple solution to solve it.

“Looking from the perspective of being a victim of a flood—people reached out and helped us—and now we have another community in our state experiencing a crisis, and we need to help,” said Director of Northlands Rescue Mission, Sue Shirek.

After the only shelter for homeless men in Bismarck closed in October, many other shelters were prepared to take in new residents—but that’s a move that is not easy, and has not happened quickly, because many who stay in shelters have specific medical providers, mental health providers, and parole or probation officers.

“So to pluck somebody up from the community where they are getting help of some sort, and then moving them to an entirely different community where they’re going to have to start all over makes it harder, and creates trauma for people who are uprooted by no fault of their own,” said Shirek.

So far the Northlands Rescue Mission has not received any displaced residents—however, they do currently have room available, and have established a process where case-planners from Bismarck can call them and arrange the types of services clients need.

The La Grave on First housing project being built in town could also be helpful—but it leaves one potential problem—it won’t be finished for years.  

"It’s a resource that might work down the line, but it’s not an appropriate resource that will work for immediate needs,” said Shirek.

So the mission is asking local residents to be generous this holiday season and donate to them and other shelters to help with the difficult process of moving so many.

"Being willing to help out financially is the easiest thing to do, and that's the thing that is most beneficial. Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and it's a great day to remember these organizations in need,” said Shirek.

Helping to give all a home this holiday season.