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More people turning to help in Minot as pandemic continues

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 9:30 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. – The North Dakota Continuum of Care is conducting their annual point-in-time, or PIT count, Wednesday, of people who are experiencing homelessness.

Those behind the continuum say they expect the number of people impacted by homeless to go up this year due to financial hardships brought on by the pandemic.

Homelessness takes many different forms. For Clemon Evans, experiencing health issues and a stay in the hospital, led him being laid off.

“I was trying to figure out on how to get back home or where I was going to stay, once I got out of the hospital. they give you a one ride trip there but no way back. I caught me by surprise,” said Evans.

In rural areas like North Dakota, it may not be in plain sight, but that does not mean it does not exist.

“They’re not always standing on a street corner with a sign or they’re not always walking the streets with a backpack or a grocery cart,” said Mike Zimmer, Minot’s Men Winter Refuge Executive Director.

Homelessness in the state is expected to trend upward due to the pandemic, even though our numbers are smaller compared to neighboring states.

“This winter, we are just almost to halfway point of our shelter season which runs from November to April, and we are already over 20 for this winter, so we are ahead of last year’s pace,” said Zimmer.

The men’s winter refuge is not alone in helping more people.

“We are busy than ever, we have a wait list right now, and i know that other non-profits in the area ,service providers, are in the same boat. There are just a lot of people in need,” said Liz Larsen, Minot YWCA Interim Executive Director.

Making services and programs available to those in need more important than ever, which is the overall goal for what’s known as the PIT count.

“They use that information to track trends, to recognize services gaps and strengths in that area, and then it is also used to do estimates as far as federal funding goes,” said Shawnel Willer, Continuum of Care Coordinator.

Evans added that he would not have known where to go without the Men’s winter refuge being there to help.

“I didn’t know this really existed until you get into it, people don’t know a lot of thing exists and how good people are until you get caught in a situation, and since I am in this situation, it opened up my mind, my horizon and I’m glad to have people like that around,” said Evans.

He mentioned that when has the opportunity, he will pass the blessing forward.

The Minot YWCA, Men’s Winter Refuge, Minot Domestic Violence Crisis center, and the Minot Area Homeless Coalition all attribute to the local count.

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