BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The only 24-hour shelter in Bismarck has restricted its hours.
United Way’s shelter will close its doors, until further notice, for 13 hours each day. We sat down with the shelter’s executive director, Jenna Gullo, who said that when the shelter first opened, it was meant to be only temporary.
Once Gullo realized this was the only place the homeless community could turn to, she and her staff wanted to make it permanent. They gathered ways to stretch donations and a $250,000 grant as long as they could.
The funds ran out in June, and the grant is no longer being offered.
“Everyone will need to be out by 7:30 a.m. and they can come back in at 8 p.m.,” Gullo explained.
United Way did give all shelter residents 30-day bus passes to get around the city during the closed hours. But being that the shelter is now only available for sleeping hours, many families and homeless people have limited places they can go — including Heaven’s Helpers soup cafe, the library or somewhere downtown.
Those are simple solutions for some, but for others, it’s stressful and simply not safe.
“We run basically on a whim, so I’ll say we’re going to go here and hop on a bus and go that direction; right now we’re gonna go see if we can find some food to eat my her grandmother my ex-mother-in-law is going to send us some money; to go to Walmart or not Walmart; McDonald’s to get lunch for the kids; but otherwise we have to figure it out quick and fast in the morning. This morning it was down pouring,” said Amber Huehen.
As they take it day by day, Gullo says United Way’s next call to action is to make a plea to the community to help and donate to make up for the lost $250,000 grant, which would help build the permanent shelter and support staff full-time, and more.
To do so, visit United Way’s Emergency Homeless Shelter website.