Weather Forecast


Homeless live here

People may not think homelessness is a problem in Alexandria.

But it does happen. Not through the stereotyped images of deranged alcoholics sleeping in alleys but when people find themselves, at least temporarily, without a roof over their head.

Some bunk down at a friend's house or with a relative, joining the ranks of the so-called "couch homeless."

Others turn their car into a home.

An effort to make people more aware of the plight of the homeless is under way in Alexandria this month.

Both the city of Alexandria and Douglas County have proclaimed November as Homeless Awareness Month.

The United Way of Douglas and Pope County's Community Impact Coalition put together the proclamations and is leading an effort to shed more light on the problem.

The coalition noted that although Alexandria is a city "filled with infinite promise, the continuing problem of homelessness is deeply disturbing."

On any given night in Alexandria, there are homeless men, women and children sleeping in cars on the streets, in substandard housing and other locations unintended for human habitation, the coalition noted.

Ending homelessness is critical to the vitality of families, schools, businesses and for the general sense of community in the Alexandria area, the coalition added.

Right now, there are 126 households on waiting lists to receive housing assistance from the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA).

Another 421 households are on the Douglas County HRA's waiting list, according to the proclamation.

The Wings Family Supportive Services' housing program is also fully occupied.

In the last 12 months, West Central Minnesota Communities Action (WCMCA) has served 94 homeless households - 48 of them families with children, the coalition said. The WCMCA also has a waiting list of people hoping to receive emergency housing funds.

The nearest homeless shelters are in St. Cloud and Fargo-Moorhead, the coalition said.

By focusing more awareness of a community-wide effort to end homelessness, the coalition hopes to answer the need for affordable housing and an emergency shelter in Alexandria.

For more information about the Community Impact Coalition or to find out how you can help, contact the United Way at (320) 763-4840.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236