For those who have been helping the homeless and those who want to, there’s a new opportunity to do so.
The Burleigh County Housing Authority will open a housing development for the homeless on Nov. 1. The authority needs household items to stock the 40 apartment units. It gets expensive to stock that many apartments, so the authority is asking people to buy and donate household items.
It costs the authority about $4,000 to furnish each unit.
The authority has a list of needed household items on Amazon. It’s a wish list that provides the basics for establishing a home.
Some people might feel the list goes beyond necessities, but the Tribune editorial board believes they are realistic requests. As we move into the holiday season, it’s a way to share with the less fortunate. Donors also know how their money will be used.
The housing authority calls the Amazon list a starting point. We hope the organization will ask local stores to help furnish the apartments. Surely some Bismarck-Mandan businesses would match the prices of Amazon.
The housing development, Edwinton Place, at 1121 S. 11th St., will provide a variety of services for tenants. It’s another step in the effort to deal with the homeless in the Bismarck-Mandan area. It’s been a difficult situation for the last few years.
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Edwinton Place cost about $10.5 million to build, with funding coming from 10 sources. The first objective is to get people off the streets and then provide them with services. The goal is to attack the root causes of homelessness, according to Dwight Barden, housing authority executive director.
Agencies assisting the housing authority are Dacotah Foundation, West Central Human Service Center, Community Options, Heartview Foundation, Youthworks of North Dakota, Job Service North Dakota and health care providers.
It’s a team approach to homelessness that hopefully will get many back on their feet. The apartments rent for $729 a month, but tenants will pay about 30% of their income. The rest of the rent will be paid by taxpayers through the Housing Choice Voucher program.
It’s important that tenants pay part of the rent, but they need money left for other living expenses.
The opening of the apartments couldn’t be more timely. The recent snowstorm reminds us of how quickly the weather can turn cold, snowy and deadly. North Dakota isn’t the place to be sleeping outside in the winter.
The housing authority has some restrictions on who it will accept for tenants. They won’t rent to anyone convicted of manufacturing, selling or distributing illegal drugs. Nor will they accept anyone on a sex offender list.
While the housing authority apartments will help deal with homelessness, they won’t solve all the problems. The housing authority won’t accept tenants on sex offender lists or anyone who has manufactured or sold drugs. These offenders often have difficulty finding housing when starting over.
Overall, Edwinton Place offers an opportunity for people to get another chance at life. It’s also a way for the community to help the homeless.