By Amy Dalrymple
WILLISTON — A new program here to provide temporary shelter to men during cold months has been running at capacity, as the Oil Patch’s hub communities search for solutions for their homeless population.
Project Heat, supported by the Salvation Army and Williston churches, provides a warm place to sleep for up to 10 homeless men each night in a local crew camp.
Williston Salvation Army Capt. Joshua Stansbury said the program, which began Feb. 10, has been full in recent weeks and some men have been turned away.
Project Heat continues through March 31, but may be extended by one or two weeks if there is still inclement weather, Stansbury said. The program is expected to resume again next November, as long as it has enough volunteers, he said.
“It’s not the long-term solution, it’s not a shelter,” Stansbury said.
Williston church leaders modeled Project Heat after a program in Dickinson, another community seeing rapid growth due to oil development. The Dickinson United Churches for the Homeless program provides shelter for up to 15 men and the temporary shelter rotates among seven churches.
Churches and community members in Minot started a similar program this year known as the Men’s Winter Refuge, said Louise Mueller, who volunteers as the refuge nurse.
The program, which started the first week of February in a house that was donated, can house up to 12 men each night, Mueller said. The house is in the city’s flood planning zone and is not available after May 31, Mueller said.
“We just pray that we’ll know what to do next year,” she said.