BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Although there have been several decreases in costs recently — including the much-appreciated reduction in gas prices — the housing market is still placing pressure on many people, especially marginalized groups. In North Dakota, particularly, Native American communities have experienced increasing troubles with paying rent, homelessness, slums, and the Rent Help program. This has led many to cry out for assistance to combat an industry that seems to be exploiting and abusing people of color.

It is out of this concern that the Sacred Pipe Resource Center — a nonprofit organization in Mandan focusing on addressing the needs of the Native American population in the BisMan area — has decided to host a series of forums addressing the issues plaguing Native Americans and other marginalized groups in what is called the predatory housing industry, and what can be done to counter them.

The first of these forums took place on June 24, during which members of the SPRC and BisMan community discussed homelessness, rising rent costs, and what is perceived as ‘theft’ in the housing market (including deposits and fees). While the first forum has long since ended, a second meeting has already been planned for August 16.

The subject of this housing meeting will be the ideas of ‘Housing-Sponsored Homelessness’ — how housing companies and management programs can at times discriminate against marginalized groups or provide unfair advantages to individuals. Like other forums in the series, housing resources will be available during the event. The meeting will take place at the Bismarck Event Center from 3:00 pm – 6:00 p.m.

Members of the Community Council, including Native professional Candace Crowghost, hope that the series of forums will help to shed light on and change things for tenants who are often taken advantage of by the housing industry, especially native tenants.

“You can’t simply build yourself a home in this day and age,” stated Crowghost in the previous press release, “And that means people are bound to arbitrary rules like credit scores and arbitrary fees like non-refundable application fees. And that means people are excluded from having a basic right to a place to live. The impact of COVID has not abated and the economy is definitely not helping; some people are working 40+ hours a week just to keep a roof over their head and then becoming homeless if one little thing falls out of line. We want people to know they’re not alone.”

Following August’s meeting, there will be one more forum on October 18, covering Tenant’s Rights and how to ‘Balance the Scales’ when it comes to housing in North Dakota. This October session will also take place at the event center from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Official Predatory Housing Forum flyer (Image Credit: Sacred Pipe Resource Center)

Admission to August’s housing forum is free. Any interested individuals may register by filling out a form that is available online here. Those with personal stories or questions are invited to share and make their voices heard during the meeting.

For more information on the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, Community Council, or the Predatory Housing Forums, visit Sacred Pipe’s website, email native@sacredpipe.net, or call 701-663-3886.