- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - The city of Williston has formally recognized a company that provided beds at its crew camp for a temporary emergency homeless shelter last winter.

Officials did not disclose the location of the shelter earlier for security reasons. The effort, dubbed Project Heat, ended at the close of March, and Mayor Ward Koeser and city commissioners recently thanked Aries Systems Building for providing 10 beds at its crew camp for 50 nights, the Williston Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1m19pBI ).

“It worked unbelievably well,” Koeser said.

The Salvation Army and several Williston-area churches organized the program in February, with the help of about three dozen volunteers. Officials hope to start it up again in November, Salvation Army Capt. Joshua Stansbury said.

Williston is in Williams County, in the heart of the western oil patch. Nearly 1,000 people in the county are classified as homeless, though most have some form of shelter, according to the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People. Nearly all of the people in the area classified as homeless came in search of jobs.

The goal of Project Heat was not to offer permanent housing, but a temporary solution for homeless men in transition, Stansbury said. Men could sleep at the crew camp for up to two weeks, and Aries offered free showers, beds, and coffee and juice in the mornings. All who stayed were encouraged to search for employment and permanent housing in the region.

“We were able to see some men get jobs and attempt to become established in our community,” said Chris Swarthout, pastor at New Hope Wesleyan Church.


Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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