Homeless Coalition Estimates $250,000 Loss in FM Shelter Funding

ND Lawmakers are considering budget cuts which take more than $1 million from state homeless shelters

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers are considering cutting more than $1 million from state homeless shelter funding.

It’s a big concern for a group dealing with homelessness in Downtown Fargo.

Cody Schuler, a director at the FM Coalition for Homeless Persons, estimates a $250,000 loss from state funding of Fargo-Moorhead’s homeless shelters if  lawmakers follow through with budget cuts.

Schiler said this does not put area shelters at risk of shutting down.

But it would significantly set back the amount of homeless people they are able to take in.

This means more people may be left out in the streets.

“Every little conversation gets me a little bit further with those individuals to hopefully get them to access services,” said Homeless Outreach Specialist Jillian Struxness.

Struxness works directly with the homeless and helps get them back on their feet.

“Whether that’s just having a cup of coffee at Homeless Health or talking to them on Broadway while they’re on a bench, or going under the bridges,” said Struxness.

Her and many others met with business owners and people living in Downtown Fargo.

“So that they understand the issue of homelessness but also know who to call for certain issues and things like that,” said Struxness.

They work with the downtown resource officer who also helps build a better rapport with the homeless community.

“I’ve tried to make more of a relationship with them so they’re not so afraid of law enforcement which I think has worked out throughout the year,” said Fargo Police Officer Jesseca White.

Officer White helped start a community service program to help keep people from re-offending.

“They’re able work off their fines as opposed to getting into that revolving door of going through the system continuously,” said White.

Those who work and live downtown say they hear complaints about panhandling.

While begging is illegal, they suggest visitors give their money to local organizations that help solve the homeless problem.

“It’s okay to say no,” said BID Operations Manager Chris Schlepp. “But if you say no, here’s another resource. “You don’t have to feel bad.”

While state budget decisions are still under debate, advocates for the homeless are doing what they can to help them find homes.

Officials said local shelters and programs significantly helped curb the homeless population, but budget cuts could slow progress.

To find out more about local organizations helping the homeless, click here.

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