MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Through the years, North Dakota has made great strides in lowering the homelessness rate. But there is still progress to be made, especially during the winter months.

In Thursday’s segment of Not in Our Town, Kyara Brown tells us more about homelessness in our communities and what organizations are doing to keep everyone warm and safe for winter.

It’s clear we are living in difficult times. Homelessness is ravaging our communities. Even now that the cold North Dakota winter is here, there are over 1,000 homeless men, women, children, and veterans living on our streets.

Many organizations like Project BEE have joined the fight against homelessness and are here to raise awareness of the pressing need for help, and for change.

“So last year was the first year of the winter warming center program that provides overnight shelter to individuals that are homeless and also with that program, we provide them with a meal and access to our shower and laundry program. And we thought it went really well last year and we started off our second year, and it has been insanely more in demand,” said Alyson Heisler, a development associate for Project BEE.

“We already in November had 500 and some nights of the shelter alone, just in the month of November. So it’s there and people know it’s there which is a good and a bad thing at the same time. It’s bad because so many people need this, and it’s great because we can give the service that we provide. It seems like our numbers are always growing exponentially, that there always is a constant need,” said Eric Locken, a program associate for Project BEE.

Not only do they provide a safe and warm place to sleep. But they also provide access to all of their programs like the shower and laundry program, goal setting and case management support, finding low incoming housing and jobs, and access to their diaper pantry. The lower level of the shelter is for individuals and the second level has apartments for families.

Locken said, “We are a low-barrier shelter. And that provides shelter for everybody that could possibly need it. If you happen to have a drinking problem or drug problem, we don’t turn you out. Just because you happen to have a drinking problem doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed a roof and a safe place over your head, a hot meal in your stomach, and a warm bed to sleep in. You’re still a human being.”

People at the warming center have been inspired by the help they’ve received from the shelter. Some of them have been able to get back on their feet and contribute to keeping the shelter a safe space.

“Everybody here, they want to be here, the guys that are here, the girls that are here, they all want to help out, keep this place going. whether it be helping us clean or helping us cook and make a meal, they are willing to throw in to help,” explained Locken.

Project BEE hopes to continue to provide anti-poverty services to rural communities in North Dakota and BEE the example of showing every person dignity and hope. They have a long-term shelter for families called Broadway Circle under construction right now, which is set to be up and running in 2024.

You can always donate to the North Dakota Homeless Coalition to help those in need.