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Letter to the editor: Disheartened to read that North Dakota is set to return federal funds

The past two years have been extremely difficult for our families, friends and neighbors.

Letter to the editor FSA

To the editor,

It was disheartening to read that the state of North Dakota has decided to return to the federal government almost $150 million in rental support provided through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

The past two years have been extremely difficult for our families, friends and neighbors. North Dakotans have felt the pain of lost loved ones, health crises, lost jobs and isolation, like millions of others in countries around the world.

Many of our neighbors, after losing their source of income, have also lost their shelter because they could no longer pay the rent. Landlords have suffered because of lost income, while expenses have continued. The rental assistance program was created by the federal government for states to implement, so that we could keep these families as whole as possible in the face of this pandemic. With one winter storm system after another hitting North Dakota, this support is truly a life-or-death situation.

As faith leaders across North Dakota, we encourage our elected officials at the state and federal levels to do everything in their power to ensure North Dakota can access the funds we need and put them to use for the purpose they were intended – to help those in need of this critical support. We also encourage our state leaders to examine the various components of the rental program to ensure roadblocks are not preventing renters and landlords from accessing needed assistance.

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Just this past December, many North Dakotans celebrated an event that took place centuries ago when a young family was searching for shelter during a challenging time in their lives. The mother was due to give birth.

Let us keep the meaning of that event in our minds and in our hearts as we strive to better care for those at risk of losing shelter in these difficult times.

Bishop Craig Schweitzer, Bismarck; the Rev. Deborah Blood, Fargo; the Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck.

Others who signed this letter:

Bishop Craig A. Schweitzer, Western North Dakota Synod ELCA
Rev. Deborah J Blood, Transitional Conference Minister, Northern Plains Conference United Church of Christ
The Rev’d Canon Hal Weidman, George’s Episcopal Memorial Church, Bismarck
Sister Kathleen Atkinson, osb, Ministry on the Margins, Bismarck
Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck United Church of Christ, Bismarck
Rev. Tammy Toepke-Floyd, Jamestown 1st Congregational United Church of Christ, Jamestown
Rev. Marty Toepke-Floyd, First United Methodist Church, Jamestown
Rev. Beth Walch, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Bismarck
Rev. Sylvia Bull, Faith Lutheran Church, Bismarck
Pastor Joe Larson, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Fargo
Pastor Martin Avery, Mayville Gran Lutheran Churches
Vicky Vetter, Student Ministry Director, Legacy UMC, Bismarck
Rev. Dr Julie A K Anderson, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Bismarck
Rev. Susan Haukaas, Trinity Lutheran Church, Jamestown
Deacon Alexandra Benson, Heart River Lutheran Church, Mandan
Rev. Kyle Symanski, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Valley City
Rev. Janel Kolar, First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Dickinson
Rev. Derek Harkins, Faith Lutheran Church, Bismarck
The Rev Dr John Floberg, Standing Rock Episcopal Congregations in Selfridge, Ft. Yates and Cannon Ball
Rev. Gail Hagerty, Heart River Lutheran Church, Mandan
Rev. Dr. Kevin Cassiday-Maloney, First Congregational UCC, Fargo
Rev. Phil Leer, First Lutheran Church of Mandan
Rev. Brandon Vetter, Legacy United Methodist Church, Bismarck
Rev. Dr. Leanne Simmons, First Presbyterian Church, Bismarck
Rev. Karen Van Fossan, Green Sanctuary Program of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Fargo
Rev. Canon Zanne Ness, Ministry on the Margins, Bismarck
Rev. Mark Narum, Trinity Lutheran Church, Bismarck
Angie Kutzer, Director of Discipleship and Outreach, First Lutheran Church of Mandan
Pastor Bill Rindy, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Bismarck
Rev. Michelle Webber, First Congregational UCC Moorhead

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