Homeless Shelters Full: People Sleeping in Cars
by Candace Thornberg, KVRR Anchor/Reporter
June 27, 2012
Some homeless people coming to Fargo Moorhead looking for a job are now living in a car.
Homeless shelters are full as our low unemployment rate is attracting many people to the area.
For the last month, Muhamad Mozan has called his van home.
"This is not easy for me," he says.
All he has fits inside: a small mattress, some clothes and his many medications for his heart condition.
He's looked for an apartment, but says he can't afford a place on his Social Security Insurance income.
Mozan says, "They [gave] me food stamps. They tell me I’m sorry about you because your wife kicked you out, and you are on disability. You’re a sick man."
But even without having a permanent home, he has a neighbor. Tom Calvin came from Rochester looking for farm work.
"I kind of expected it to be a slam dunk. With my kind of zeal for work, I didn’t think I’d have any problem at all, but I just kind of ran into a brick wall.”
But he's had to sleep in his car because he hasn't found work to pay for a place to sleep.
Mozan and Calvin have been staying at the Moorhead rest area because the area homeless shelters are full, overfull in fact.
Churches United Shelter Director John Roberts says more people than ever have come looking for help.
Roberts says, "They hear good things about this part of the country, come looking for employment and stay at a motel until funds run out.”
In the winter, the shelter will add extra mattresses to offices so people don't have to sleep outside.
But this is the first time there's been this much over capacity in the summer.
Roberts says, "We do some screening. We ask them, ‘Where’d you stay last night?’ And if it’s a safe place, ‘Can you stay there again tonight?’ ”
The shelter gives women and families priority, forcing overflow men, like Mozan and Calvin to sleep in their vehicles.
Mozan says he's on a waiting list, but can't wait much longer.
“I am not a small age to [live] my life like this. This is not good.”
Calvin says he'll keep looking for work, but if he doesn't find it soon, he'll head back to Rochester for a backup job.
That's the attitude Roberts says is needed.
"Those who stay optimistic, stay persistent and use the resources available to them will succeed.”
Churches United says there are plans to add capacity, but would rather see permanent affordable housing for everyone.