FARGO — With Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan homeless shelters busting at the seams, plans are underway to open another housing facility in south Moorhead.
The 45-bed temporary emergency shelter would be in a vacant building at 1015 30th Ave. S.
Fargo city commissioners unanimously approved using up to $450,000 in federal funding to lease the space, pay utilities and retrofit the building.
City Planning Director Nicole Crutchfield said she was working with Churches United in Moorhead on the project, and funding from Minnesota sources would also likely be available to help cover the costs and lower Fargo's share.
"We have many other partners, too," Crutchfield said.
Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig said they wanted to know exactly how much it would cost but backed off on the question after hearing the city planned to use federal coronavirus aid as funding.
Piepkorn added he hoped it wouldn't just be Fargo paying for the new facility.
Crutchfield said they hit many dead ends in trying to find additional space to house the homeless as the chill of winter deepens. The issue of overcrowding has been compounded by distancing regulations in current facilities.
The beauty of the new facility, she said, is that it's on a city bus route and easy to access.
She said there were some concerns about staffing, but they were having meetings this week to iron out more details.
The goal is to get the facility operating as soon as possible.
Crutchfield has been worried about more renters being evicted from their apartments and in need of shelter as the Dec. 31 deadline nears on eviction moratoriums and rental assistance.
However, she also received unanimous approval from commissioners to use another $1 million in federal funds to help renters into January.
So far, city housing assistance programs helped 1,100 families avoid eviction in Fargo. A state-run rental "bridge" program helped other city residents.
The rent assistance is paid directly to landlords, and the average in Fargo was about $1,250 per renter so far, Crutchfield said.
She said with extra jobless benefits also facing a cutoff, including added aid to help people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, problems could get worse.
Commissioner John Strand said he hoped city developers who benefit from property tax breaks through the city and build apartment buildings will work with renters who are at risk.