Statewide: February 8, 2011 Archive
Posted at 9:02 AM on February 8, 2011
by Dan Gunderson
Filed under: Homeless
"Completely overwhelmed" is how Darianne Johnson describes the situation for social service agencies in Dickinson, ND., where an influx of workers are looking for jobs in the state's booming oil industry.
Johnson runs the local domestic violence program and shelter. In the past she sometimes gave homeless families emergency shelter as well. Now she says domestic violence cases are up 65 percent since June, and there's no room for sheltering anyone but victims of domestic violence.
In the past six to nine months, the shortage of housing in Dickinson has become a crisis, Johnson says.
Some people are homeless and looking for work, but others have jobs and simply can't find a place to live. New apartments are being built, but Johnson says rents are very high and in many cases landlords require a high credit score to rent.
Local agencies report as many as 60 contacts a week with people who are homeless. One recent contact was a single dad with two teenage sons.They were sleeping in their van. Johnson says she knows of a case of as many as 30 people living a house.
In the past, Johnson says, social service agencies were always able to help people in need. Now she says it's not possible to help everyone something she finds "extremely frustrating on a daily basis."
The number of homeless people in North Dakota increased by nearly 20 annually the past couple of years, says North Dakota Coalition of Homeless People Executive Director Michael Carbone.
He expects a similar increase this year. But he says says it's very difficult to accurately count homeless people in parts of the state where there are no emergency homeless shelters.
"If someone is living in a camper out on the prairie, we're not likely to count that person," says Carbone, even though that person might technically be considered homeless.
Still, workers keep coming to North Dakota, lured by the prospects of an economic boom.
Carbone says the housing crisis will get worse before it gets better. New housing developments require financing, planning and infrastructure. And that all takes time.
I'll have more on this story this afternoon on the MPR News program All Things Considered.
Posted at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2011
by Michael Caputo
Our good friend and provocateur, Chuck Marohn, wants to pose a simple question: What are the objections to ending the mandate that all children get transportation to school?
In his latest post at the Strong Towns blog, Marohn makes a case for abolishing the mandate. He would still include a provision to bus those students who live on farms in remote areas to school. He also would provide a subsidy for children from lower-income families so they could afford bus transportation:
"It makes no sense that we continue to abandon neighborhood schools in favor of these remote campuses that require every child to be bused to. The only reason this continues to happen is that we've made transportation a sunk cost -- it has to happen anyway -- and so the cheapest way to do it is to make it large-scale. In the meantime, the transportation mandate is simply another perverse incentive for people to make lifestyle choices that ultimately have huge, financial costs to society."Marohn makes the case that the pressure on transportation costs will actually ramp up as gas prices climb to $4 a gallon.
It's worth looking at the MN2020 report that shows how some districts must take from classroom needs to pay for busing while others do the opposite.
So what's stopping us from ending the transportation mandate in schools? What would be the benefits or drawbacks to cutting this busing requirement?