The Feathers Are Going To Fly: Your Alternative to the Fargo Forum

All writers have selected a "Phantom Name" due to the controversial content and editorial mission of the publication. The decision was made to help protect their professional standings in the community. This underground newspaper is dedicated to seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty. We remain faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society - as a light exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power. This is why we are not accepting advertising for this venture. This is why we have assembled a arsenal of writers from all walks of life and income status. Hawk and Dove is also designed to stimulate a free-and-open debate about political ideas facing the Red River Valley. Through educating and advocacy, we will continue to promote democracy. One constant motivation is the old-fashioned notion that the principal role of the free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government - to expose corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever and whenever it is found. North Dakota Politics Please E Mail feedback@hawkndove.net and post response.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Alternative to Fargo Forum: Fifteen Percent of Fargo’s Homeless Work Full-Time


Fargo, ND - Fifteen percent of all homeless people in Fargo work full time. Moorhead numbers are not much different—thirteen percent are working full time. Twenty-eight percent of Fargo’s homeless and eighteen percent of Moorhead’s homeless have part time work. In other words, thirty-one to forty-one percent of all homeless persons in the FM area are working—yet still have no home. This startling statistic, reported in the most recent Wilder Survey, defies stereotypical notions that homeless people are homeless by choice—that they prefer not to work and instead prefer to live off the “system.”

The Wilder Survey, conducted throughout Minnesota and including Fargo, reveals several other facts about the area’s homeless population that contradict common beliefs about homeless persons. The study was conducted in October of 2006, and the results of the FM portion of the study were reported to the community in a presentation by Greg Owen, PhD, on September 20, 2007.

Perhaps most startling is that the report shows a 49% increase in homelessness since 2003, the last time the study was conducted. Owen, who oversees the study and performs the data analysis, and Barbara Sipson, the area coordinator of the study, indicate that the 49% increase is a little misleading. Some of the increase can be attributed to better data collection methods (which means that there were more homeless in 2003 than previously identified), but that the increase is still significant. Statistics from the Clay Wilkin Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program at Lakes and Prairies Community Action show a twenty-one percent increase in requests for services from the period of July 1, 2006 through September 30, 2006 to the same period in 2007. Other programs report similar increases. The real increase in area homelessness is most likely in the twenty to thirty percent range.

How does one become homeless while working full time? The answers are perhaps
as varied as the stories of people who fall into homelessness. For many, they lose employment which leads to housing loss. They regain employment but find it difficult to regain housing. In part, this is due to the extensive credit and background checks most area landlords conduct before approving a rental application. Once a person has an eviction on their record it is “difficult to find a landlord who is willing to accept what could be considered to be a high risk tenant.”

Landlords can hardly be faulted for avoiding risk, but that does not make it any easier for someone who has experienced a setback in their housing status to return to a normal housing situation. Some landlords who are lenient on background checks, or do not conduct them at all, are lenient because they offer housing that is below the standards that most tenants expect. So, if a person who has become homeless through eviction (or foreclosure) does regain housing, often times the housing is substandard.

Another factor that contributes to the existence of working homeless people is the fact that wages have not kept pace with rents and there are fewer low cost apartments than there are people looking for low cost rent. As a result, some area agencies (like Lakes and Prairies Community Action) are proponents of a universal living wage where the local minimum wage is calculated based on a full time worker being able to pay market rate rents for an appropriately sized apartment.

Another disturbing statistic from the Wilder Survey is that seventy-seven percent of the area’s homeless persons have some sort of serious disability. These include mental illness, chemical dependency, physical and developmental disabilities or a combination of the above. That means that only twenty-three percent of the area’s homeless are free from some sort of disability—less than the percentage that are working.

There are approximately one-hundred and sixty homeless women in Fargo/Moorhead. Of these, one-third have at least one child with them. Twenty-five percent of these women are fleeing domestic violence.

The study identified fifty-seven unaccompanied homeless youth (twenty years old or less). The figure could be higher because many homeless youth avoid services, preferring to “couch surf” and avoid authority figures. Many of these youth are also fleeing abusive situations. About half are struggling with alcohol or drug use, and only half ever expect to be reunited with their families. Thirty-nine percent of homeless youth have a GED or high school diploma—indicators that for many their housing struggles are going to continue for years to come. Forty-five percent of female homeless youth report having been pregnant, and twenty-seven percent of male homeless youth acknowledge having fathered a child. One-third of the females reported that they had been approached to engage in prostitution or other sex work.

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Fargo Forum Alternative. Cass county North Dakota.

The Fargo Phantom, Your Alternative to the Fargo Forum

The Fargo Phantom, Your Alternative to the Fargo Forum
Grass Roots Politics

Fargo Forum Alternative

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