North Dakotans look to Washington for help in homeless problem

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - More than one thousand North Dakotans don’t have a place to call home according to government statistics. A group of advocates traveled to Washington this week in search of solutions to the problem.

“With our harsh winters and harsh summers, we need our people to be protected,” said Jamie Lund, a Housing Navigator for Presentation Partners in Housing in Fargo, ND.

Lund traveled thirteen hundred miles from home hoping to find homes for others. At National Conference to End Homelessness in Washington she was brainstorming how to better serve the North Dakotans without permanent homes.

“For our organization it’s imperative to be able to provide good services to our people,” said Lund.

Lund’s partner, Reid Hartl says attending the conference and learning what works in other parts of the country is invaluable. He says one of Fargo’s biggest issues is packed shelters.

“The root of the problem is just that we have people who’ve been chronically homeless, like I said, for 10 or more years and services aren’t helping them,” said Hartl.

Hartl says solving homelessness in North Dakota is doable. But, he says it’s going to take some help from folks on Capitol Hill.

“The ask is to continue to support homeless programs and to show that when you provide a house you provide a structure that really enables someone to be successful into the future,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

Heitkamp says the Trump administration suggested cutting funding for homeless programs in the upcoming budget. She and her Senate colleagues are calling for a nearly $100 million increase in their budget plans.

“If we get the right services, we can in fact see long term savings by making the right investments at this point in time in people’s lives,” said Heitkamp.

Congress is looking to finalize their budget by the end of September.