Homelessness Continues to Rise in the Valley - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Homelessness Continues to Rise in the Valley

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The number is staggering, the homeless population in the Fargo Moorhead area has nearly doubled in recent years. From 393 people with nowhere to call home in 2003, to nearly 800 in 2009. These are numbers that often go without a story. But tonight Valley News Live brings these stories to light. Explaining how the F-M Coalition of Homeless Persons is helping more than 1,000 people in need.

At the 11th annual Project Community Connect folks had the chance to get a haircut, find affordable housing, even medical assistance. This event at the Fargodome is aimed at the homeless, the nearly homeless and veterans.

Brantley Johnson knows all too well the story of life on the streets, "I used to be one of these people out here, homeless, didn't have no where to go."

But today Johnson is helping, a volunteer who's encountered all sorts of folks. Like Roger who was recently released from jail, and now living at a homeless shelter in Fargo.

"I never did asked for any handouts, I made it out on my own since I was 15." Says Roger.

Today he faces a major stumbling block because of his past. Many of these folks face other hurdles.

Laurie Baker the director of Thursdays event breaks down how homelessness can strike folks from all walks of life; "mental illness, addiction, physical disability, all these things are real and active in peoples lives. Criminal history too... It makes a difference, it's a big barrier."

More staggering then all the folks who face the fear of homelessness, is just about 34 percent of those homeless in the area are vets.

Roger see's them at his shelter, "from young, to old, to vets. We have them all there."

Another volunteer, Roberta Coghlen, an Iraq War Veteran says she's seen it first hand, "people come out of the service with a lot of mental handicaps and it hinders them in their day to day lives and they can't hold on to their structure. Their lives just sort of crumble apart."

But when you start asking for help, and for the tools that can get you there, that's when real change can happen.

Coghlen explains how some of the services that help vets here, helped her; " I've been there myself. I had a huge issue with PTSD so I knew what it's like to lose all the pieces. But thank God I found them all and I'm starting to rebuild."

Roger knows that a little bit of help, though unexpected, makes a huge difference too, "they helped me out, gave me a voucher to look for clothes, and I did that. I never did that before."

But take it from someone who was down on his luck three years ago now. Who jumped through the hoops to get the help that only can be embraced through hard work. "It was hard work and I didn't know too much. I was here by myself and what it was... I put in the leg work, I was willing to give the time and effort to find these resources."

The director of the F-M Coalition of Homeless Persons says they can always use more help to fight the problem in our backyard. It doesn't have to be money either, your volunteer hours are just as valuable to them. We've included a link at our website valleynewslive.com. Or just copy the link below.


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