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F-M Coalition for Homeless Persons wins Bush Innovation award

Passenger Productions

The Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons has received a 2017 Community Innovation prize from the Bush Foundation.

The Coalition will receive $69,000.

The Coalition’s Cody Schuler said Bush earlier gave the group an innovation grant. He said the grant was used to go beyond just providing a homeless person with temporary shelter and a bed for a night – instead, it is geared toward ending homelessness.

Schuler said because Fargo and Moorhead are border communities, they face a unique problem.

"When you're experiencing homelessness, the Red River doesn't mean much to you, other than you have to cross a bridge to get to another place," Schuler said. "But for funding strategies, often times federal, state and local funds can stop at the water's edge."

Schuler said the challenge was to create a “coordinated entry system,” to allow the services in Fargo and Moorhead to work together.

"We work out of two data bases, where most communities work out of one data base," Schuler said. "We had to solve those technology issues."

Schuler said the Coalition has to come up with ways to navigate all the legalities and funding requirement, and build a cohesive system for Fargo-Moorhead. He said it’s all part of the Coalition’s “Housing First” strategy.

"What we want to do is, from the time when someone becomes homeless, we want to get them into housing as quickly as possible," Schuler said. "We want to make sure that individuals with higher need, those most likely to die on the street tonight, are at the top of the list."

Schuler said services have been rearranged and prioritized to make that happen. He said the big challenge now is a lack of affordable housing.

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