Nonprofits partner to find long-term shelter for Bismarck

BISMARCK (AP) — Two nonprofits have partnered to help the Bismarck community acquire a building for a permanent homeless shelter.
Bismarck officials and groups have been working toward a long-term plan since Ruth Meier’s Hospitality House closed the area’s lone emergency men’s shelter in October.
Just recently, the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way secured space in downtown apartments for a temporary housing solution until July. The group hopes to move those seeking shelter into the apartments on Thursday.
For a permanent solution, nonprofits Lewis & Clark Development Group and Lutheran Social Services have agreed to find a building and lease it to a shelter operator.
Brent Ekstrom, executive director of Lewis & Clark Development Group, said plans are still in the early stages. He said the nonprofits will help the area save money because they don’t require much return on investment and they have access to funding sources and lower interest loans.
“We can bring down the cost of the building,” said Ekstrom.
The two groups have already worked together maintaining affordable housing properties for low-income residents.
A steering committee has been determining what the permanent shelter should include and how it should be operated. The group is comprised of local elected officials, homeless coalition representatives, law enforcement and a service provider for Native Americans in Bismarck.
Lewis & Clark Development Group will then provide development guidance once the committee settles these details.
“A lot of decisions have to be made yet,” Ekstrom said.
City Commissioner Nancy Guy said the goal is to develop a plan to finance and operate the shelter by June, in order to present it to commissions for approval by July 1. The steering committee will host stakeholder meetings in April.