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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Project Heat helping Williston-area homeless

  • Groups including the Salvation Army and several Williston-area churches have organized a program for area homeless people who don't have shelter from this winter's bitter cold.
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  • Groups including the Salvation Army and several Williston-area churches have organized a program for area homeless people who don't have shelter from this winter's bitter cold.
    Project Heat involves 10 beds reserved at an area oil patch crew camp, the location of which is not being disclosed, according to KXMC-TV. The effort launched Monday will run through March.
    Nearly 1,000 people are classified as homeless in Williams County, in the heart of the western oil patch, though a survey by the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People found that most have some form of shelter.
    For those who don't, the Project Heat program is preferable to a city-funded shelter, said Katie Long, the city's economic development spokeswoman.
    "When it's 16 below outside and you know it's going to hit 35 below in the next hour or two, you're not worried about someone filling out a five page intake form," she said. "You want to get them inside and you want to get them warm. That's the goal for Project Heat."
    People in need of shelter are being told to gather at the Salvation Army downtown.
    "We're a block from the train station, so people can come in and we can share the information that we have," Capt. Joshua Stansbury said.
    Homeless people given one of the 10 beds will have it guaranteed for two weeks.
    The homeless coalition's survey found that nearly all of the people in the area classified as homeless came in search of jobs.
    "You are found in a place where you didn't think this would really be happening to you," said Pastor Chris Swarthout at New Hope Wesleyan Church. He said Project Heat is aimed at giving the homeless some hope: "I get a place to sleep tonight, I can have a fresh start tomorrow."
    Organizers hope to run the program five months next winter.

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