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More homelessness in Minot?

August 4, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
I know Minot has probably always had a certain number of homeless people, but I wonder if the problem has been getting worse.

Yesterday I stopped in the restroom at the public library and saw a woman – white, middle-aged, neat but casually dressed – brushing her teeth and pulling other toiletries out of a large backpack. She gave me a somewhat annoyed look, seeming a little irritated that I was disturbing her.

Maybe she is one of the hikers who comes through Minot every summer, maybe someone who came in on the train or the bus and wanted a place to freshen up. Maybe she is one of a group of volunteers who has come to help flood victims in the area and is living a little rough.

On the other hand, maybe she is living out of her car and has no other place to wash her face or brush her teeth. I have heard anecdotal stories that suggest the library is a good place for homeless people to hang out all day. In one way, that is certainly understandable and the library should be there to serve all members of the public.

On the other hand, the library is a library, not a hotel bathroom, and it is a bit disconcerting to see it being used as such. I didn't ask the woman who she was, as she didn't seem to be in the mood to converse.

How many people are there in town right now living out of cars or campers or tents in some farm field or in a state or city park? I'm sure there are many more couch surfers who live temporarily with friends or relatives, often because they can't afford a place to live in a town with exploding rents. Maybe 10 years ago when I did stories about the problem of homelessness, I heard how surprised people were to hear that it was a problem in Minot. These days I suspect no one is surprised to hear these stories.

I am glad that there are plans to expand the availability of domestic violence crisis center housing this year. I hope more funds will be found to help provide other types of shelter assistance for homeless men as well as women and children, for those who are simply poor as well as those who have been abused. More low income housing in the area is also needed desperately.

Have you seen evidence that there's more of a problem with homelessness in the area?


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