BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Next week opens 2022 to the chapter of November, and November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month.
KX News will be doing a series to raise awareness and follow the issue of homelessness here in our state.
Wednesday afternoon Adrienne Oglesby spoke with Sister Kathleen at the Ministry on the Margins about this important topic.
“No one deserves to be out when it’s 10 below,” said Sister Kathleen.
Sister Kathleen shares that 70% of the people in the area that will be homeless Wednesday night are North Dakotans, and close to 60% of them are from Bismarck.
That alone kills the stigma that the homeless in our state are outsiders coming in.
Ministry on the Margins does it all to assist those in need the best they can, serving about 1,200 people per week.
“The top need in Bismarck is 24/7 low barrier shelter if you go to two o’clock. I don’t know what you were doing at two o’clock last night. I was sound asleep but if you think of two o’clock in the morning and just five years ago if you were stuck and you were homeless, you know would be cold and you could’ve gone to Denny’s or Perkins or Walmart or Dan’s or cash wise or a gas station you could’ve gotten warm you could have use the bathroom if you would’ve been homeless last night at two o’clock in the morning all of those places have now changed. None of them are open 24/7 anymore,” Sister Kathleen told us.
With the number of those who are homeless steadily rising, the growing question is where can a person go at 2 a.m. for shelter and safety.
And where can someone in need go at 2 p.m. during a blizzard?
The ministry does have a coffee house open from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., but what about low-barrier assistance outside of those hours?
“I think the call to action for the people of Bismarck for our leaders in the city in the state is to say no one deserves to be outside in the freezing cold and we do have the ability to deal with it. We just need to get the creativity and the commitment,” said Sister Kathleen.
The people in need are all around us. They are someone’s son or daughter just like us.
“We have the tendency to say if you were worthy, you could change your life so I just picture a person who is homeless and you say I’d like you to stop drinking. I’d like you to begin to regularly take your medication for your mental health issues. I want you to change while you’re homeless, and then will give you housing,” she said.
In our community, the homeless face challenges and judgment every day.
“Saying one shelter is only something that you deserve if you’re a good person, or you changed your life that goes against anything a religious belief would take or a human you know human dignity,” said Sister Kathleen.
Low-barrier shelters are ones with limited requirements, where you can come as you are.
Those struggling with mental health, addiction, and much more are not turned away either.
Just last night, the Ministry’s coffee house had a total of 57 people coming in and out in need of shelter and care.
As a city, Bismarck is in the works of plans for temporary shelter for emergency cases but that still leaves out a large portion of steady base low barrier needs in the area.
Be sure to tune in for Wednesday night’s KX conversation to learn more about Bismarck’s current emergency crisis plans.
We will continue reporting on homelessness throughout November.