Homelessness is an issue in the summer in Bismarck, as much as it is in the winter. The difference is, in the winter, homelessness is deadly.
KX News checked in with several places acting as shelters and to see what’s being done to keep everyone indoors.
Traffic was as usual in Bismarck today, but you didn’t see many people walking around town.
Missouri Slope Area United Way Executive Director Jena Gulo shares, “It is bitter cold outside, and it really turns into a life or death situation.”
United Way’s homeless shelter had 55 people stay over last night.
Gulo adds, “And it just goes to show there are a lot of people in need.”
While several businesses in the area were closed, places like Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe that help the community on a daily basis are staying open.
Not only did they serve lunch and dinner, but their doors were open to anyone who needed to get out of the cold today.
Bismarck resident Charles Morse says, “It’s a nice place to come and go. I’ve been here since last week, and they’re pretty decent people.”
Brandon Schmidt came in after volunteering around the corner, giving out warm clothing.
The Ministry on the Margins volunteer explains, “Tons of winter jackets, tons of clothing, tons of scarves, hats, mittens; you name it. We go through them just like that.”
Heaven’s Helpers Founder Mark Meier shares, “Yesterday the Mandan Police Department dropped a gentleman off who had been walking without shoes, just in his socks, with no coat. And so they dropped him off here to warm up, and we sent him with some work boots, close fit, but you know, just try to get them out of the cold.”
Meier wasn’t the only one who told us there are not a lot of options for the homeless on a cold day.
Native American Development Center Director Lorraine Davis adds, “I worry that someone could die for as little as something like we didn’t open the doors.”
The Development Center offered free transportation all day, and they do so every Monday thru Friday. It’s also a shelter from the cold.
Troy Plenty Chief is here most days.
He shares, “It’s too cold right now. I basically just stay inside. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
Davis and Gulo say there just aren’t enough resources for the homeless in Bismarck and Mandan.
Gulo says, “My biggest worry is that our community does not have a 24/7 shelter. We have nowhere safe for people to go and access services.”
United Way’s overnight shelter is open seven days a week. Gulo says they don’t have the funds to keep it open around the clock.
A local family donated pots of chili, bagels, and coffee to the United Way homeless shelter today.
If you want to donate your time or resources to United Way, Heaven’s Helpers or the Native American Development Center, here’s how:
United Way – Visit their website at https://www.msaunitedway.org/ and click ‘Donate’ or ‘Volunteer’, or visit their main office on 4th Street in Bismarck.
Heaven’s Helper’s Soup Cafe – Visit their website at https://www.soupcafe.org/ and click ‘Donate’ or ‘Volunteer’.
Native American Development Center – Visit their website at https://www.ndnativecenter.org/ and click ‘Get Involved’. Scroll down past the picture and click ‘Donate Now’ or ‘Sign Up’ under ‘Volunteer’.