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Published December 22, 2011, 10:25 PM

Detroit Lakes feeling homeless shelter pinch

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) - The Holiday season can be a difficult time for some of the loneliest people in our communities: the homeless. With maxed out shelters in Fargo and Moorhead, the need for more housing is greater than ever in surrounding areas.

The holiday season can be a difficult time for some of the loneliest people in our communities: the homeless. With maxed out shelters in Fargo and Moorhead, the need for more housing is greater than ever in surrounding areas.

The need for help in Detroit Lakes is going at an astronomical rate. The meals served at the Refuge doubled from 10,000 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2011. Now, it's one step closer to being able to provide emergency shelter for those who need it most.

Colten Jessen – Recently Homeless: “Cold, alone, I mean it's a lonely feeling, you feel scared.”

At 22 years-old, Colten Jessen found himself homeless, with nowhere to go. He's one of several in Detroit Lakes who've been forced to sleep on the streets for parts of 2011.

Colten Jessen: “There’s no place around here like that, I mean, it definitely needs a place like that.”

The Refuge provides clothing, meals, but no shelter. They're forced to ship people to Fargo-Moorhead; a hard task with the growing homeless rate in the metro. But that may not be true for very much longer.

Randy Kohler – The Compassion House: “We want the community, the residents, the businesses to be a part of this and by them pouring into this organization, they're helping meet the need of the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the starving.”

The Detroit Lakes Planning Commission approved the Compassion House - a branch of the Refuge - to house 59 beds. There will 25 Emergency beds and 34 for Group Residential Housing.

Randy Kohler: “The homeless people can graduate from homelessness into that program, so instead of just having a night, they can rely on having many nights of roof over their head.”

Funds are short. Right now, it's storage for donations - beds, dressers, insulation. The Compassion House has three rooms ready - and hopes have room for 14 people by the end of January - when they expect to get final approval by the city council.

Randy Kohler: “I know it seems stereotypical of the homeless man living under the bridge, but they really are, they have carpet piled up underneath there and they sleep underneath the carpet.”

The Refuge is still a long way from its ultimate goal of $174,000 raised to get the Compassion House fully operational. If you'd like to help, or find more information about the house, you can visit http://www.therefugeofdl.org/page21

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