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Letter: Wilder homeless study sheds light on realities

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Wilder Research, which is part of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and shares the foundation’s mission to enrich the lives of the vulnerable and disadvantaged, conducts a survey of the homeless every three years, most recently in 2012. This survey has been widely referenced by many proponents of Churches United’s plan for Moorhead.

Facts from the survey reveal pertinent information about the heads of the families we are being asked to embrace.

Criminals

  • 63 percent of the adult homeless in Moorhead have been incarcerated in a county jail for a month or longer, and/or a state prison, and/or a federal prison, and/or a juvenile facility.
  • 64 percent of those have been out less than a year.
  • 40 percent of those are on probation.

Addicts

  • 35 percent have been in a detox center.
  • 61 percent of those in the past two years.
  • 30 percent considered themselves to be an alcoholic or chemically dependent.
  • 11 percent of those feel they need to see a health professional about alcohol or drug problems.
  • 34 percent reported using alcohol during the past 30 days.
  • 29 percent report a current problems with alcohol.
  • 18 percent reported using marijuana, cocaine, heroin, inhalants, methampetamines, synthetic stimulants, or pharmaceutical drugs not intended for them.
  • 22 percent have been told by a doctor or nurse in the past two years that they suffer from alcohol abuse disorder, and/or drug abuse disorder.

Impaired mental capability

  • 84 percent report serious or chronic disability such as mental illness, substance abuse disorder, or other condition that limits work or activities of daily living.
  • 78 percent who report not taking their needed medication, need the medication for a mental health problem.
  • 44 percent feel they need to see a health professional about emotional or mental health problems.
  • 41 percent often feel confused or have trouble remembering things or have problems making decisions, to the point that it interferes with daily activities.
  • 60 percent have been hit in the head so hard that they saw stars or were knocked unconscious.
  • 61 percent who report a head injury, stated that they have problems with headaches, concentration or memory, understanding, excessive worry, sleeping, or getting along with people.
  • 57 percent have been told by a doctor or nurse in the past two years that they suffer from alternative definition of significant mental illness.

    (Note: The alternative definition of significant mental illness includes inpatient and outpatient treatment in the past two years in addition to schizophrenia, and/or paranoid or delusional disorder, and/or manic episodes or manic depression, and/or major depression, and/or anti-social, obsessive-compulsive, or other personality disorder, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or alcohol abuse disorder, and/or drug abuse disorder, and/or dual diagnosis – mental health and chemical dependency.)

  • 52 percent have received outpatient care from a counselor, psychologist or mental health worker because of nervousness, depression or mental health problems.

Few with Moorhead ties

  • 47 percent of the homeless in Moorhead have been in Minnesota two years or less.
  • 12 percent of Moorhead’s homeless grew up in the seven-county metro area.
  • 63 percent of Moorhead’s homeless grew up in a different state or country.
  • The remaining 25 percent grew up somewhere in “Greater Minnesota,” which encompasses all of geographic Minnesota other than the seven-county metro area. They could have grown up in Luverne, Winona, Grand Marais, Hallock or anywhere else in the state.

    Therefore, at the bare minimum, 75 percent of the homeless in Moorhead did not grow up in Moorhead or even Clay County, for that matter.

    The real number is most likely around 90 percent of the homeless in Moorhead did not grow up in Moorhead.

Council action required

Either by design or by ignorance, the mayor and some council members claim there is “nothing the city can do” to halt this project.

This is not true.

There is nothing to prevent the City Council from initiating and approving action to change the zoning of the parcel in question to a category that will not allow Churches United to create a nearly half-million square foot “campus” to provide services and living accommodations for impoverished criminal addicts with impaired mental capability, few of whom have previous ties to Moorhead.

The council needs to act to restrict the influx of these itinerant marauders who have invaded our community. If they do not halt this ill-conceived venture, those supporting it should be replaced. It’s time for action – not excuses.

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