Education Program Brings Awareness to Homelessness in ND

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Despite the economic prosperity in North Dakota, there are still those who can't afford life's basic needs. Unfortunately, many of us may be oblivious to the need out there.

Homelessness is a problem that will probably never completely go away. One group, however, is bringing organizations to the capitol to learn how to become advocates for the homeless.

The Bismarck area has a homelessness issue. In the 10 counties surrounding the city from McClean County to Emmons County, there are more than 1,500 homeless people. That number includes more than 300 children and more than 100 veterans.

"Homelessness is here, it's real, and it's something that we need to deal with," said Cha Duggin, Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People (MVCHP).

Homelessness 101 is essentially what it sounds like, an introduction to homelessness class. The Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People brings together more than 35 people from about 25 organizations to teach how to deal with this issue.

"It helps agencies feel like they're not alone and it helps agencies realize that there are people who will help bring those in need to the agencies that can provide support, " said Major Tim Sell, Bismarck Mandan Salvation Army.

"This is very encouraging because the goal of Homelessness 101 is to get a lot of public education going, to get people to become advocates and to get the conversation going," said Duggin.

With the average cost of living in Burleigh County more than $20,000 per year, Sell warns that homelessness can happen to anyone for many different reasons.

"For many people, it's already happened to them. For most of us, it could happen some day and it's good to pay it forward before it happens," said Sell.

The best way to avoid losing your home, according the the MVCHP, is a rainy day fund with nine to 12 months salary.

According to the coalition, one would have to earn $14.40 an hour in order to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in North Dakota.

If you'd like more statistics on homeless or to learn how you can become an advocate, you can go to mvchp.org