Local Shelters Hit with Winter Overflow Early in the Season

It’s been a mild winter in North Dakota until now.

Local homeless shelters are starting to worry about the winter overflow.

Churches that shelter the homeless usually don’t expect to be near full capacity until late into the season.

But that isn’t the case here.

I spoke with some local homeless shelter operators who are looking to find some solutions.

“It really doesn’t take long when we reach subzero temperatures. When someone is in the elements, frostbite can happen relatively quickly. So it actually saves people’s life to have this sheltering church to go to at night,” says Churches United Community Center Director Lisa Lipari.

The F–M Sheltering Churches Project kicked off several years ago.

This temporary project is supposed to help relieve the homeless shelter by placing the overflow at a local church.

The project also aims to reduce the numbers of homelessness.

But every year there seems to be an increase.

“I know a number of us were considered about if we’re seeing that already in November before it gets brutally cold, what’s going to happen when the subzero temperatures come,” says, Lipari.

30 local churches rotate to take homeless people weekly.

Each location is only able to host up to 30 people.

By the second week, the shelters had over 20 people sent to a church.

New Life Center says at least a dozen single men are sent every night for the past few weeks.

Shelters are seeking help from the community.

“It could mean if we see higher numbers, we might need to have two church sites on the same night or somehow look at being able to expand those numbers. Because we certainly wouldn’t want in our community for someone to freeze to death overnight,” says Lapari.

Shelters are still looking for a solution to help folks get out and back on their feet.

You may not know this but even a simple bus pass could go a long way.

“Individuals who are looking for work or trying to go look at an apartment, it’s so cold out to walk around is challenging,” says New Life Center Executive Director Rob Swiers.

The cost to cover transportation from the shelter to the church, mattress replacements and linen washes is quickly adding up.

“Without folks in the community providing funds, resources, support, churches opening up, we could not do what we’re doing,” says Swiers.

The F–M Sheltering Churches need the support of the community to help contribute to the project.

If you would like to help, you can find more information at Sheltering Churches.

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