Fargo OKs Combining Detox, Gladys Ray Shelter

How much will this cost private sector taxpayers? Huh

FARGO – City commissioners here unanimously approved the city’s 2014 budget Monday night, which includes what the city’s finance director called a “modest” tax cut.

In the same vote, commissioners also approved combining the city’s alcohol detox service with the Gladys Ray Emergency Homeless Shelter, the only shelter in Fargo that allows those who stay there to be drunk.

It’s a move that city leaders hope will better address the increasing mental health and alcoholism issues in the community’s growing homeless population.

“It’s really great that we’re starting to see what we can do to get people out of this cycle instead of just doing a Band-Aid,” Commissioner Melissa Sobolik said.

The city has contracted the non-profit Centre Inc., to run the detox center since the early 1990s. Staff at the Gladys Ray Shelter is also contracted by the city. The two services share a building at 1519 First Ave. S., but are under different management.

City leaders from public health, planning and police made their case to commissioners Monday that the city would be better able to tackle the larger issues tied to homelessness if the detox and Gladys Ray combined under one manager and were put into the city’s public health department.

Ruth Bachmeier, public health director, said the current facility is being used more as a “sobering station” than a true detox because it doesn’t always provide access to the community’s other services that can help break the cycle of homelessness.

“It’s where people are going for a safe environment where they are able to sober up and then leave,” Bachmeier said. “For us as a community to really get to the root of the issue, we need more than what’s currently being offered.”