Chronic homelessness costs the state 30 to 50,000 dollars per year, per homeless individual, and that’s just in emergency service costs.
The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency estimates just providing people in need with access to housing will cut these costs by 40 percent.
NDHFA Executive Director Jolene Kline explains, “It’s really emergency room visits, it’s police calls; it’s trying to get them off the streets and get them into a stable housing environment with the services that they need.”
The Housing Finance Agency along with the Burleigh County Housing Authority and Beyond Shelter Inc. broke ground on Edwinton Place, the first permanent supportive housing project Bismarck-Mandan has ever seen.
United Way Executive Director Jena Gullo says, “This weekend alone, we had to call the cops twice because we had two homeless clients on different evenings that were so intoxicated, and they were going to be a harm to themselves or be vulnerable out on the streets. If they had an affordable apartment and services, they wouldn’t be in that situation.”
Chronically homeless people often have mental health or substance abuse issues, a chronic health condition or a history of physical or sexual abuse.
It was in 2008, that the need to have supportive housing for the chronically homeless was first talked about. It was in Bismarck-Mandan’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Gullo adds, “We have about 45 people every single night at our United Way homeless shelter. A third of those individuals have an addiction. Over half of the individuals we’re serving have a mental illness.”
Kline says the goal was to develop 50 units a year, or 500 units total.
She shares, “We’re just in the process of doing the 10-year wrap-up report right now. We’ve produced about 450 units, so we’ve made progress, but we’re a long ways away.”
She says moving forward, the focus will be less on how many rooms are built, but on the support services necessary to make transitioning out of homelessness possible.
Edwinton Place is shaping up to be a 10.3 million dollar project. The finished home will have 40 housing units, and will be completed by next summer.