(Alpha Media – Brooke Bickford) This is a sad and dangerous situation and one that needs answers. This week I will be interviewing the people who are trying to make a difference in Fort Dodge when it comes to homelessness.
In Fort Dodge there has been an uptick over the past few years of people living on the streets. Now some of those individuals are making their way into vacant homes. This was the case for someone close to Fort Dodge resident Alison O’Brion.
“In the past week there has been three times that the police have had to be contacted to remove homeless men from either my family’s property or the property across the street. Our property had the door kicked in, all the shelves were removed from the closet now you’re on pins and needles of what were they doing. Sometimes I think that there’s potentially mental health and or drugs connected with this that also makes things unpredictable,” O’Brion said.
The last break-in, O’Brion said the police took the man to jail for the damages he caused and he was charged with 3rd degree burglary and a restraining order was filed on him by the homeowner.
The break-ins are not rare, and happen in downtown Fort Dodge often.
There is a homeless shelter for men in downtown Fort Dodge and other services offered to help people get on their feet in Fort Dodge, but the folks that live there must abide by the rules. When they break the rules they head out the door and on to the streets.
“A lot of people will come to our community for resources. It could be the homeless shelter, CFR and it’s not those that are actually utilizing those services,” O’Brion said. “It’s those who come here potentially for those services but then get kicked out and then they are living on the streets. That’s the crowd that I think we really need to talk about and address.”
For everyone’s protection, O’Brion said there should be a system in place that when a person is kicked out of a shelter or program, the whereabouts and details of why they are no longer allowed to be there should be given to the police and maybe a solution can be reached that puts the individual in a safer facility than onto the streets.
O’Brion said she hopes that her sharing her experience will create awareness and begin a bigger conversation. “If something doesn’t feel right you’re probably right. From a safety standpoint entering a house you need to be aware of your surroundings,” O’Brion said. “If you are a Realtor, an inspector, a service employee, an owner of a small business, I think that people need to be aware that this is very real.”
Right now there is no firm solution, but the city of Fort Dodge has been working on one. Listen to Alpha Media throughout the week as we talk to local officials on how they are trying to create a safer Fort Dodge while helping those who need help the most.