United Way of Cass-Clay kicks off 2020 Donation Campaign
FARGO, N.D. — According to the United Way of Cass-Clay, 1,022 people in our community will experience homelessness on any given day.
It’s a huge problem, one that the United Way is trying to solve by 2023.
“Instead of asking the question ‘How do we help the homeless?’ We started to think about this community issue a little differently, and instead we asked ‘What if we prevented homelessness from ever happening?'” said Thomas Hill, the Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of Cass-Clay, “Instead of trying to solve a problem that already exists, we’re working to prevent that problem from ever occurring in the first place.”
They say most homelessness starts after or during a crisis, like a medical emergency, or the loss of a job, and people can’t find affordable housing in time or at all.
“We can’t stop bad things from happening. What we can do though is unite and come together as a community, and change how we help and provide supports to families and children when their need is greatest,” said Hill.
United Way’s solution: More dedicated housing specialists who will help families find housing during a crisis, before they get evicted.
“Each week, we get together and review 80 and 180 applications from families that are in crisis. We have the very tough job of figuring out which of those households are we going to be able to provide assistance for,” said Sarah Kennedy, the Homeless Prevention and Diversion Director for Presentation Partners in Housing, “We use tools to help us determine if somebody loses their housing, who is most likely to become homeless and stay homeless as a result. That’s where we draw our attention to.”
To help reach that goal, they are raising $5.8 million from the community.
United Way also revealed that 237 students attending Fargo Public Schools experienced some form of homelessness by the end of the school year.
“One of the hard things is that the kids are really worried when they are at school. It’s like ‘Where are we going to sleep tonight? What are we going to eat?’ It causes a lot of stress and trauma,” said Jan Anderson, the Homeless Liaison for Fargo Public Schools.
United Way of Cass-Clay says that $14 a week can be the difference between somebody experiencing homelessness or not.