There's still no permanent solution to housing Bismarck-Mandan's homeless popuation.It's now considered a crisis.
After Ruth Meiers closed their emergency men's shelter at the end of October, community members have been working relentlessly to come up with a solution.
While there's only a temporary set up in place for those getting shelter, there's still more to be done. Jena Gullo, the director of United Way, has been the driving force behind the efforts. "We were asked last Friday if we could, as United Way, work with community partners to take the lead on developing shelter through April of 2018."
Gullo made a presentation during the Bismarck Mayor's Gold Star Community Task Force meeting Tuesday morning. She says through November, they have provided 576 nights of shelter for 134 homeless men, women, and children in the area. This still isn't a permanent solution, and no one disagreed after Gullo called this problem a crisis.
"A crisis is even when one person in the community needs shelter. We don't want a single person dying out in the cold. We care about people. The whole community cares. The cities care," said Gullo.
It's not just United Way working on the efforts. Various other organizations have also come forward to help in any way possible. And Mayor Seminary sees these people going above and beyond what they're asked.
"This is people stepping up and saying, 'I'm going to find a way to provide a solution to a very important need. And I couldn't be more proud to be the mayor. I couldn't be more humbled at watching this take place. It's really quite remarkable," said Mayor Seminary.
There is something you can do as a community member. Gullo says there are only 5 full-time employees at United Way, and they can't do it by themselves. She's asking anyone to help volunteer either at the temporary shelter intake or just answering phones.
Gullo added, "You do not need to be trained. We will train you in. But we need all hands on-deck to really be able to meet the needs of this crisis."
She tells me she's been working with Bismarck city commimssioner Nancy Guy to find that permanent location. They have explored over 20 different locations. No decision has been made, but once it is, she fully plans to approach the community to make sure it's a good fit for everyone.