Homelessness does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, at any stage in life. And there are a multitude of reasons people end up on the street.
In North Dakota, behavioral health is generally a piece of the puzzle. It can be a part of what makes someone homeless, or it can be the result of homelessness.
Living without a home causes stress, and sometimes a loss of connections and victimization. All of this affects someone’s mental and physical well-being.
So what is the state doing about it?
The North Dakota Behavioral Health Division has case managers at the eight regional service centers across the state. These “PATH” coordinators go out into the local communities to help those that need it, by finding affordable housing and resources for mental health and substance abuse.
“I think it’s never enough. The rural areas, I think, are probably in need of more kinds of services. I think the statewide homeless coalition is looking at those things. How do we best serve? There’s homelessness in all small communities in North Dakota, and the large ones,” shared the Assistant Regional Director of the West Central Human Service Center, Lynden Ring.
“Homeless isn’t just sleeping under the bridge. Homeless is not having a permanent place to live for yourself. And one thing PATH Coordinators can do too is outreach, in addition to assisting with applications for housing and Social Security and Medicaid,” added the Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Administrator, Tami Conrad.
Every year the state Homeless Coalition conducts a study over the course of a day. On that one day in 2018, 1,094 people identified themselves as currently homeless across the state.
Of that group, about a third said they struggle with behavioral health issues.