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Homeless people coping with extreme cold are turning to the Ministry on the Margins in Bismarck for help.

The Bismarck-Mandan community has just endured its second deep freeze of the season with temperatures dipping to more than 20 below. The subzero weather comes at a time when the lack of a men’s homeless shelter hasn’t been resolved.

It has been cold across the nation, with the number of deaths demonstrating how dangerous subzero temps can become. There has been one death in Bismarck that appears to be cold weather-related. So we know just being out in the cold, let alone being homeless, can be risky.

Community organizations and city officials have been searching for a solution. It’s been a slow process since the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House closed its men’s shelter in October. Possible locations for a homeless shelter have not worked out for various reasons. There have been organizations and people working extra hard to help the homeless and find a solution.

Ministry on the Margins led by Sister Kathleen Atkinson has worked daily to direct those in need of shelter to available housing. The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way spearheaded efforts to raise funds and helped find temporary housing for the homeless. Volunteers for both groups have devoted long hours to helping those in need.

Bismarck-Mandan residents have donated money to pay for the housing. In at least one case, an employer is paying for a motel room for a man until he gets settled in his new job. While the room is nothing fancy it doesn’t take long for costs to mount. It’s an act of a good Samaritan.

The time it has been taking to solve this crisis has been frustrating for many. There are practical issues to be solved in finding a location for a shelter. You have to pay for it, find people to staff it, take care of insurance and other issues. The city of Bismarck has been poised to provide some funding, but it’s not as simple as just writing a check.

That means individuals have to step in to fill the void. Bismarck-Mandan should be thankful it has so many people willing to help. On New Year’s Day the Tribune announced its annual Tribune Award winners. The recipients and other nominees are all involved in helping their community in some way. They sacrifice, though we feel most wouldn’t use that term, their time to help others. One of the most valuable things we have is time and to give it freely to others is a wonderful gift.

Bismarck-Mandan will finally find a solution to the homeless shelter problem. It will be accomplished because there are caring people in the community. That makes life richer for all of us.

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