WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 10, 2014, 08:43 PM

FM homeless numbers on the rise

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -If a homeless person can't find shelter, what are their options?

By: Brian Abel, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -If a homeless person can't find shelter, what are their options?

According to the most recent available data, the amount of homeless in Fargo alone in 2012 more than doubled since 2000, from 199 men women and children, to 618.

Laurie Baker, Executive Director, FM Coalition for Homeless Persons: "And we don't want that to have to be true."

And the six emergency shelters in Fargo-Moorhead, including New Life, Churches United and Gladys Ray, are operating at over-capacity numbers, especially with the recent bitter cold streak outside.

Baker: “We are not turning anybody away at this point, and we are so grateful to the church sheltering project"

But the church shelter program is only able to take in about 30 people per night.

Add that to the roughly 380 beds available at the shelters, and you still come up over 200 short of that 2012 homeless number.

Del Rae Williams, Moorhead Mayor: "Emergency church sheltering is not a good solution in a long term way"

And while officials say the numbers don't take into account homeless individuals who do not try and find shelter.

Williams: "There not necessarily on the streets ok, they're sleeping on somebody's sofa"

It's the F-M community that's left to help out when the shelters can't.

Baker: "People are very generous; you know in this kind of climate you do the best to not leave anybody in the cold"

And Baker believes the city is dedicated to finding ways to curb the growth of homelessness in Fargo-Moorhead.

Baker: "There are communities who say run them out of town. Arrest them. You know becoming homeless shouldn't be criminalized. And I think in our town were saying no that's not the solution. The solution is finding homes and support systems who will keep them."

Officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be collecting new homeless data in Fargo-Moorhead on Jan. 24

Transitional Housing is another option for those currently without a home.