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Wendy Reuer, Published January 26 2012

United Way to pay to transport homeless

FARGO – When area churches and the Churches United for the Homeless shelter put a call out for help with transportation, United Way of Cass-Clay stepped up to help.

Churches needed help getting the overflow of homeless people from the shelter in Moorhead to churches hosting overnight stays.

The United Way has had a long-standing relationship with local homeless shelters, said Sheri Thomsen, the organization’s president. Because community groups are collaborating in the effort to house the overflow, it was perfect for the United Way to get involved as well, she said.

“It’s really about people coming together,” Thomsen said.

Eight churches take on the overflow for one week at a time. The homeless are screened at the shelter and then bused to a church overnight. Volunteers and church members trained by the Red Cross stay the night at the churches for supervision.

Two large vans have been donated for use each night for transportation, and United Way will cover gasoline costs. Thomsen said because the United Way will pay for the transportation after costs are incurred, an estimate is not yet available.

Thirty-six homeless people needed overflow shelter on Sunday, according to data by United Way. That is double the peak overflow last year of 18.

The overflow church shelters are averaging 27 to 28 people per night.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530