Northlands completes expansion
When Dave Sena started running the Northlands Rescue Mission almost 10 years ago, overnight residents usually numbered in the 30s. One day in November, the downtown Grand Forks home for the homeless had 119 stay overnight. Routinely this year, it...
When Dave Sena started running the Northlands Rescue Mission almost 10 years ago, overnight residents usually numbered in the 30s.
One day in November, the downtown Grand Forks home for the homeless had 119 stay overnight. Routinely this year, its daily census runs in the 90s.
"The (bad) economy is part of the reason," he said. "A lot of people who were taking care of someone are now in nursing homes, leaving those people with no place to live. Another reason is the migration of people from bigger cities to smaller ones (like Grand Forks) to escape gangs or other bad situations."
If the trend continues, the mission is prepared. Last week, the fifth floor renovation was completed and residents took up quarters there.
The $60,000 project included gutting a former large apartment, presumably used by the house mother for nursing students when the building was part of Deaconess Hospital. The wide-open space now can sleep 34, in military-style bunk beds. Each bed has an accompanying nightstand and a wood locker for belongings. The furniture was made by Roughrider Industries of the state penitentiary.
Northlands now can handle 125 people, making it the largest such facility in the state.
The extra dormitory, funded by four local foundations and private donations, is the latest in improvements at Northlands. A $750,000 project added a dining area, security entrance, elevator and bathrooms.
"The city and its (Community Development Block Grant) dollars have helped out a lot of people here," Sena said. "There's been an amazing outpouring of help from the community."
Sena said first-time visitors are surprised at what they see. At 25,000 square feet, it's much larger than they visualized. A bigger surprise is that it's more modern and better maintained than most imagine.
"People have that old view, the image of a drunk tank or a flophouse," he said.
"But if you take care of the facility, it teaches new people coming in that they're valued, loved and accepted. And if it's nice, they'll take better care of it, too."
The new fifth-floor dormitory furthers that message.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .