Dickinson Churches Unite to Provide Temporary Homeless Shelters - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Dickinson Churches Unite to Provide Temporary Homeless Shelters

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Homeless populations have been on the rise due to the growing number of people moving to the state.

But in Dickinson, there is no place for the homeless to spend the night at this time.

A pilot project is in the works the next two months to provide just that.

Several churches are banding together to provide shelter to those in need.

Seven churches have been approved for sheltering by the city during February and March.

The reason, church leaders say they couldn't stand by anymore.

"One of the stories that's pretty common around these parts, are the people that thought they had a job lined up, thought they had a place to live, and somewhere along the lines there was a hiccup." says Ron Dazell/Chair of the Dickinson Churches United for the Homeless.

With few affordable housing options, moving to the land of opportunity can fall flat.

"For instance, some of these people have a car, but that's the only thing they have." says Evangelical Bible Church Associate Pastor Ron Dazell.

Church leaders are seeing the problem more and more.

"I found this particularly from working at the church, people are willing to take the chance now, where they, before, winter was enough to keep them from coming or staying, now, we're finding people are coming and willing to take a chance because there's nothing for them back home." says Dazell.

Their project houses homeless men in a different church each week.

It's a program similar to ones in Bismarck and Fargo.

Leaders say they are strict as far as safety guidelines, with four monitors at all times in the shelter.

"These are our families that are coming in here to volunteer, so we wouldn't want to put them in harm's way either." says Dazell.

On their first night, they sheltered one man.

"He said this couldn't have happened at a better time." says Dazell.

Proving that every person can sometimes use a helping hand.

"To lump the homeless all into one boat, isn't really fair, they all are different, they all have a different story, and each one was created in the image of God and worthy of not freezing to death on our streets." says Dazell.

According to Badlands Human Services--the last homeless shelter in Dickinson closed in 2010.

Dickinson Churches United for the Homeless will provide a full report on the pilot project to the city commission in April.

For more information on the project you can visit homelessindickinson.org

According to Michael Carbone, the Executive Director with the North Dakota Homeless Coalition, there is an estimate of more than four hundred homeless people in the Dickinson region.

That was tallied in July 2011.

Carbone says he suspects the numbers have not changed.

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