With shelters at capacity or reaching capacity, what resources are available for people experiencing homelessness?
MOORHEAD, MN (Valley News Live) – This is a question that has bothered some for a long time. With temperatures so dangerously low outside, where are the homeless going?
We recently received a tip about homeless people sleeping in the halls, stairwells and hallways of an apartment building.
Advocates say shelters are all close to or at full capacity this time of year.
We found a group trying to help.
“I think people don’t see them as people,” says Sarah Opitz of the Lotus Center.
Lotus’ outreach program acts as a resource for homeless people.
So they were asked to come to apartment buildings in Fargo-Moorhead that have this problem.
“It takes time to get to know these people and a lot of them are guarded. They don’t want to share their stories. They have already been let down by the system. I think the best thing I can do is sit down and listen to their story and try to build a relationship with them,” says Bethany Chapman of the Lotus Center.
The Lotus Center will work with people to identify what has made them homeless, how to get housing and addiction counseling
“There is such a need and there are not enough suppliers. This includes shelter and housing,” says Opitz.
“The majority of them are not homeless by choice. It could be abusive relationships. It could be substance abuse. It could be sanity. There can be many reasons. It takes time to get to know these people and many of them are guarded. They don’t want to share their stories,” Chapman says.
Finding accommodation will be difficult if someone has ever been evicted or had bad credit.
“They are so grateful to have a place they finally call home. We’re constantly working with people to see who’s willing to give them a second chance and how we can assure apartment managers that they’re going to get their rent paid,” says Opitz.
Chapman and Opitz say it’s a bigger problem.
“We have this aspiration to be a large metropolitan area. If it is Fargo/Moorhead’s goal to do this, we need to start tackling metropolitan issues. The homeless community is one of them. So how do we take care of them? said Opitz.
The Lotus Center says that zone shelters always make room when it’s very cold outside, even when they’re overcrowded.
The shelters are also always looking for volunteers and donations.
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