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WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 11, 2012, 08:35 PM

Homeless abuse in the Metro

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's an issue coming to the forefront after a Minneapolis homeless man was beaten to death for the $5 in his wallet.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's an issue coming to the forefront after a Minneapolis homeless man was beaten to death for the $5 in his wallet.

With YouTube and social media, it seems the abuse of people in homeless situations is becoming common place.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have stereotypes. Many times our stereotypes of men and women in homeless situations can have very negative connotations. And as one Detroit Lakes man tells us, sometimes it can lead to violence.

Paul Oliver - Homeless: "One guy jumped me for a carton of cigarettes."

Tobacco. Alcohol. The loose change in a mans pocket. Sometimes it's just for laughs. The viral videos of regular people abusing the homeless are everywhere.

Paul Oliver: "I've had people pull knives on me and had more than one person coming at you."

Paul Oliver has been in and out of homeless shelters for the past two-decades. Right now, he's having trouble finding work. He's been at the New Life Center for four months now. He told us he constantly feels judging eyes all around him.

Paul Oliver: "People have this theory that since you're homeless they think they're better than you, well nobody is better than anybody."

A 2009 study of Homelessness in Minnesota found that in the last year, 12% of homeless adults had to seek medical attention because of a violent situation.

Rob Swiers - Assistant Director, New Life Center: "It is a very real situation that is happening."

Rob Swiers has been the assistant director of the New Life Center for more than two years. He doesn't believe this is a new problem, simply that many of us too often walk through life with blinders on.

Rob Swiers: "These are folks just like you and I who are just having a particular challenge at the time or things are going different, but it doesn't make anyone better or worse."

Paul Oliver: "Do not judge unless thee be judged, that's it."

On top of the issues surrounding violence, homelessness in Fargo-Moorhead continues to reach unprecedented levels.

During the month of June, the New Life Center turned away an average of four men a night from their 106 bed facility, something they've never had to do during the summer months before this year.

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