The Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People’s (MVCHP) 5th annual Project Service Connect will take place on Thursday, August 15th from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library (515 N. 5th St. – Room A).
Project Service Connect is a one day, one stop event to provide free services to people experiencing homelessness or people who are at risk of becoming homeless. Various free services will be offered including a meal, haircuts, employment services, military affairs/veteran services, identification (ID) services, health/dental care services and information, complimentary items (coats, blankets, hygiene products, etc.) and much more.
“Individuals can receive a lot of information and assistance all in one day,” said Heidi Selby, president of the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People (MVCHP). “In the past, we have had an average of 100 individuals attend and receive assistance. This year we are anticipating up to 200 people.”
According to the January 2013 point-in-time survey, an estimated 193 individuals were homeless in the Missouri Valley region. Of the 193, 70 were unsheltered, meaning they were staying in places not meant for habitation (streets, cars, etc.). Four of those unsheltered were children. That is the highest number of unsheltered ever reported for our region. The point-in-time survey is completed twice a year to count those experiencing homelessness.
There are several primary causes of the current homelessness in the region. 1) The oil boom is attracting people from other parts of the country. Often the newcomers may not have a plan and don’t realize there is a housing shortage, and less affordable housing in the region. 2) Rents are on the rise, making it difficult for those with housing assistance to find a place to live or hold on to their current living space. 3) Addictions, other mental health issues and criminal backgrounds make it difficult for people to locate housing.
“Project Service Connect is about connecting people to vital services,” said Michael Carbone, executive director of the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People. “Agencies connect with each other and the faith, business and service communities connect to the problem.”
MVCHP advocates, coordinates and optimizes services for homeless persons in the Missouri Valley, specifically Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux counties. To volunteer or donate, contact the MVCHP at 701-595-0698, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.