Ruth Meier's Will Close Emergency Men's Shelter

Bismarck - A yearly survey showed North Dakota's homeless population increased in the past year from 216 to 331.

But for local shelters- cuts in funding on the state, and federal level, are adding difficulty to just who they can serve, and how many.

Ruth Meiers Hospitality House is a shelter in our area that is being forced to make some tough cuts.

One of these cuts is the men's emergency shelter in Bismarck

"What I'm afraid of is [people] are going to all of a sudden be forced out the door," Tom, a resident of the men's shelter says.

The shelter is the only emergency shelter in the area designated to serving men.

And without it, the men who live there will have to find somewhere else to go.

Either relocation or hotel rooms, or staying with buddies, if they can find any, I think that's what's really going to happen and I think it'll just create a greater problem," Tom says.

But Ruth Meier's interim director says due to cuts in funding and an increased need for housing to help families and children, hard choices are being made when it comes to who they can help.

"It's about where is Ruth Meiers going to be in the next 30 years. We need to focus on our resources and where it's going to be the greatest return," Steve Neu, interim director Ruth Meiers Hospitality House says.

Ruth Meiers isn't the only shelter having issues.

Welcome House, which serves homeless families, had to move from Mandan to Bismarck due to their rent being too high

They made the decision to make the move and serve fewer families rather than not help families at all.

"The facility affected how many we could serve. We could serve nine families over in our Mandan shelter and so, we're cut back to four at this location," Pamela Scherf, Welcome House says.

But she hopes the new Bismarck location brings families closer to the services they need like job service and public transportation.

"But we're still hoping to grow and hopefully help more families in the community," Scherf says.

But for those like Tom, what these shelters provide means more than just a number.

"If you can provide a man a bed if you can provide a man a little bit of food, a place to sleep, his spirits are going to be up, " Tom says.

Ruth Meiers has not yet set a date for when the shelter will close.

The Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People will be meeting Monday to decide what steps to take to meet the needs of the men who might be displaced by the closing of the shelter.

There are currently no other emergency shelters for men in the area.


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