The federal government, in the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, defines homeless as (Forst 1997):
1. An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residences and;
2. An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is:
a. A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
b. An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
c. A public or private p...
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...are having difficulty maintaining housing because of the rapidly increasing rents (North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People 2011).
The Fargo-Moorhead area is not alone in the rising trend. In 2009, Denver reported that nearly 30 percent of the homeless population was newly homeless and the state of Massachusetts reported that the number of families living in shelters rose by 33 percent in 2008 (National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 2009). Of the 25 cities surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors for its annual Hunger and Homelessness Report, 19 reported an increase in homelessness in 2008. On average, cities reported a 12 percent increase in homelessness. The lack of available shelter space leaves many homeless persons with no choice but to survive on the streets. Most cities do not provide affordable housing, shelter space, and food to meet the need
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