Tag Archives: homeless in Dickinson North Dakota

People Living In Their Cars In Dickinson, North Dakota

In 2011 when I first came to Dickinson, North Dakota to work, I stayed in my camper on the company property where I worked.  Because of the housing shortage, every kind of housing and lodging was very expensive.  If you could find a one bedroom apartment that was available, it cost about $1,500 per month.  The cheapest and most run down motel in Dickinson would also cost about $1,500 per month.  At that time, about 1 out of 10 oil field workers in Dickinson stayed on the company property in a camper, trailer, or motor home.

After work, I would take my laptop computer to the Tiger Truck Stop in Dickinson to use the internet.  The Tiger Truck Stop was a very busy place in 2011, especially in the mornings beginning at about 5:00 a.m.  But in the evening through later at night, the truck drivers would socialize, especially the drivers that were sleeping in their trucks over night at the truck stop.  There were about two hundred tractor trucks parked at the truck stop at night.  But there were also about thirty cars parked in different locations on the property at night.

People would arrive in Dickinson from out of state looking for work, and find that they could not afford even the least expensive motel in town.  They also found out that the privately owned RV parks in Dickinson would not allow campers in vans, cars, old buses, old motor homes, or old trailers.  These people with very little money would wind up at the Tiger Truck Stop parking lot or the Wal-Mart parking lot at the end of the day.

Though the Tiger Truck Stop parking lot was very full and crowded, the truck drivers did not complain too much about the people in cars, vans, buses, and motor homes taking up spaces at night.  The Tiger Truck Stop owner tried to not notice, because these people obviously had no place else to go.  There was no homeless shelter in Dickinson.  The Tiger Truck Stop owner in Dickinson allowing people with no where else to go to remain on the property at night, was the most charitable thing that I have yet seen in North Dakota.

The people sleeping in their cars at night in the parking lot, would come inside the truck stop to use the bathroom, buy something to eat, or use the internet.  I got to know many of these people, some of them were even life long residents of Dickinson.

I could probably write a book about the people that I met living in their cars in Dickinson, but this is just a blog post, so I will keep it brief.  Most of the people that I met living in their cars in Dickinson would go to the temporary labor company in Dickinson in the morning, the Command Center.  They would get what they could get.  Usually they would get some work each day that would allow them to buy some food and gas for their car.  On any given day, many of these people living in their car would have $5 to $100 in their wallet, and that was all the money they had in the world.  Everybody who came to work in North Dakota was not making $100,000 per year like you read about in the newspaper or heard about on television.

Some of these workers that I met who were living in their cars in Dickinson had valid current commercial drivers licenses.  They would go to trucking companies to apply for jobs, but the office ladies didn’t like the looks of them or their beat up vehicles that they were living in.  Some of the older men living in their cars had had wives and children that they supported for years by working in a trade, but bit by bit they earned less and less as the economy got worse, and cheap labor from Mexico lowered the wages of trades people everywhere.

At night at the Tiger Truck stop, I talked to many of the older men who were living in their cars in the parking lot, who had gotten work that day at the Command Center, moving furniture, cleaning up a construction site, flagging traffic, and were now “home”.  They had provided a home for their wife and children for twenty years. Had made sure their wife and children had food and clothing.  Saw their kids off to school every morning.  Bought everybody birthday presents, Christmas presents.  Paid for everyone’s doctor visits, dentist visits, eye glasses.  Their kids were out on their own now.  Wife wanted to be on her own too.  It was incredible to me, that these men had provided a home and everything for others for many years, and now their fate was to live in their vehicle and be broke.

Advice To Poor People From Out Of State Regarding Dickinson, North Dakota

If you are a poor person living in a different state, and you are considering coming to North Dakota, I have some advice and some warnings for you.  If you are White Trash, and you don’t plan on buckling down before you get here, you will probably be stopped by the police your first day here, your information will be collected, and every time a police car gets behind you in Williston, Watford City, or Dickinson, your information will show up from when you were last stopped.  They will try to get you for everything and anything that White Trash normally do:  open container, DUI, drug paraphernalia, illegal drugs, drugs without a prescription, concealed weapon, failure to have vehicle insurance, and possession of stolen property.

Keep this in mind, I know someone this happened to, and I have read about it being done elsewhere.  You can be arrested for possession of stolen property, placed in handcuffs, placed in a police car, be processed at the jail, have your photo taken, post bail, have court dates set, for “possession of stolen property”.  After several months pass, and your court date nears, and you have obtained legal representation, and some legal filings have been made, the prosecutor may dismiss the case against you because they can’t prove that anything in your possession at the time of your arrest was stolen.  You never did have any stolen property in your possession, but you were acting like White Trash, and the police in North Dakota will try every minute of every day to incarcerate you, or make you leave, they don’t care which.  You will see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

If you are a poor person living in a different state, and you want to come to North Dakota, I want to warn you that it will be very difficult in a number of different ways.  Because of the number of people who have tried to move to North Dakota since 2007, the local people here and the transplanted people here have no sympathy or mercy for anyone.  The local people hate people from out of state now.  Any problems that you may have, you will not find help, but you will find hatred.

If you have an older vehicle that is not in good condition, everyone here will notice you right away, treat you with scorn, assume you are White Trash, and expect that you will get out of your car and begin asking people for gas money.  And if you do begin trying to tell people your hard luck story, several people will call the police immediately, and then you will have a hard luck story to tell involving the police, (see paragraph two above.)  That is how you will be treated, and you need to know this before you come here.

If you have vehicle problems, and you have a credit card, you probably can get your vehicle repaired within a week at a car dealer, but know that it will be expensive.  If you expect to not pay dealer prices and take your vehicle to a mechanic, you will probably be told that they can get to your vehicle in six weeks.  They don’t want to hear your crying, they have about thirty people just as poor as you, in the same situation as you, ahead of you in line.

There is no homeless shelter in Dickinson or Watford City.  God knows the Catholics in Dickinson collectively have way more than enough money to have a homeless shelter, but they don’t want one, because they hate you.  You will not have any sympathy or mercy for being homeless in Dickinson, you will have hatred and scorn.  You will not be left alone if you try to sleep in your vehicle.  The truck stops, WalMart, the parks will not allow you to sleep in your vehicle.  Retired Catholic couples in Dickinson like to go out to eat breakfast or lunch, then afterwards go driving through the parks, parking lots, and truck stops to spot people sleeping in their cars, and then call the police to report suspicious illegal activity.  In their minds, all people who sleep in their vehicles are naer-do-wells, up to no good suspicious illegal activities, and they are just “cleaning out the trash”.

If you are poor, you will probably not be able to afford an apartment.  Even though apartment rents have gone down, a cheap one bedroom apartment will probably be $750 per month, with $750 deposit due at the same time, with probably a $200 utility deposit due at the same time.  Do you have $1,700 for an apartment, $300 gas money to get over here and drive around, $300 for a motel for a couple of days, $200 for food, that’s $2,500?  You probably don’t if you are poor.

Everything that I wrote above is the truth, and I wanted you to know it before you try to come to North Dakota.  I do have some suggestions to try to help you.  Right now there are very few job openings in North Dakota.  Look at all the jobs listed on the internet website Indeed.com for Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston.  Also look on the North Dakota Job Service website for all jobs in Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston.  See if there are any jobs that you can do.  Get a resume together, even if it is just a job history with employer names and dates of employment.  Remember, North Dakota employers are simple, direct people, and they are looking for simple, direct, truthful answers, nothing fancy.  Call or contact the job listings that you can do, and be ready to write down names, phone numbers, dates, and addresses. Don’t be a pain in the ass on the telephone with an employer asking a bunch of questions, as if you are helpless to figure things out for yourself, they are not the convention and visitors bureau, they are an employer.

At this time, I would not drive to North Dakota from out of state unless I had one good firm specific offer of employment, and at least two other employers that I had spoken to that were willing to give me a try if I got here.  Don’t load up your entire family!  If you have any friends or family where you are, or if your spouse has a job, let your spouse and family stay behind, they are much safer staying where they are, and you might have to go back.  Probably about 60% to 70% of out of state workers return to where they came from within a year.  Just the person who has the job offer needs to come.

Currently in western North Dakota, I know of two older motels that have a monthly rate of $650.  This is where you want to stay when you first get to North Dakota.  You do not want to get committed in a lease before you know how your job will turn out.  Even as you get your first pay checks, do not get into an apartment lease, you need to save these first several pay checks.  At your new job, you need to be aware that North Dakotans are slow thinkers, they are taking in the things that you say, and they are trying to think what to do with it.  North Dakotans are sometimes determined to not like people, the friendliest they will ever be is when they first meet you, which is not too friendly, but they will take in what you say, consider it, and begin to hate you more and more.  Things that you talk about that may seem ordinary, your North Dakota co-workers may be using to convince themselves more and more that they do not like you.  So you may have thought that things were going well at your new job, but after a few weeks your North Dakota co-workers may say that you just can’t do anything right, and you will need to find another job.  Save as much money as you can from your first pay checks, you may unexpectedly have to go home.

The People In Dickinson Had Better Hope and Pray That I Never Win The Lottery

The people in Dickinson had better hope and pray that I never win the lottery, because if I did, there would be some changes, and they wouldn’t like it.

There is no homeless shelter in Dickinson now.  That is the first thing I would do.  In fact, I would put Dickinson “Light-years Ahead” in the homeless shelter business.

Many affluent people in Dickinson live on “Palm Beach Drive”, which runs adjacent to the Dickinson Golf Course.  At the beginning of Palm Beach Drive, there is a very large old industrial warehouse, in the middle of a large field.  That, would be the homeless shelter.

My focus, would be on restoring hope in the homeless people.  To lift them up.  And also, to irritate the people in Dickinson, who did not want to help their fellow man.  There are probably about five Catholic Churches in Dickinson, yet none have heard,”So as you do to the the least of my people, so do you to me.”

For now, I will just describe what I have in mind for the men’s homeless shelter.  A very large facility.  A very large entrance and lobby, where friendly staff can greet the new arrivals, ask what difficulties they are having, asses what is needed, and then show the new arrival around.  In the dormitory, of course there is a bed and locker for each individual.  Here are the bathrooms and showers.  Here is the laundry room.  Here is the dining hall.  Here are the cubicles with computers.  Here is the television room and lounge.  Here is the recreation area, we have treadmills, free weights, basketball court.

Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., we have an excellent cook.  Tonight, we are having fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas with rice, corn bread, and beanie-weenie.  In the lounge, after dinner we are watching the newest Terminator movie that just came out.

In the morning, for breakfast, we usually serve eggs and toast, but we have a very large selection of cereal, Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops.  At 9:00 a.m., we have several Lincoln Town Cars that deliver people to the North Dakota Job Service office, and to the day labor offices such as the Command Center.  At 10:00 a.m., in the classroom, we have an instructor/job coach that will give some information about creating a resume, what jobs are available, what to expect at these jobs, and answer any questions that you may have.

Usually, we request that individuals take the rides in the morning to go to North Dakota Job Service, or the Command Center, or that they attend the 10:00 a.m. job coaching class.  If an individual is recovering from travel or stress, they can remain on the premises and do laundry, telephone or e-mail relatives, but they will need to attend the counseling session that we have here at 2:00 p.m. in order to make sure that you are O.K., not feeling physically ill, and to address any problems that you may have.  Since there are not that many people here during the day, we normally just have sandwiches for lunch between 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

If you need clothing, we have clothing here that has been donated.  If you need dress clothes for a white-collar job, we have them.  If you need clothes for construction work, we have them.  If you are going to work on a construction site, we give you a bucket in the morning that has a hammer, measuring tape, level, square, wire cutters, screw drivers, adjustable wrench, work gloves, safety glasses, tool belt, and hard hat.  We ask that you bring it all back with you at the end of the day.

We want the individuals here to get back on their feet.  We understand that they have undergone much stress in being homeless, not having any help, and not knowing what they are going to do.  In order to get people back to a normal life, we want to provide them with a safe, clean, comfortable place to stay, with adequate food and clothing.  We want to provide job coaching in order to help individuals become employed.  We offer other counseling in order to determine what other help is needed.

The people who drive the Lincoln Town Cars to deliver people in the morning, and pick them up in the afternoon, they are homeless people who came here, who have good driving records and suitability for that job.  The people who cook, they are homeless people who came here, who showed that they were trustworthy and were good cooks.  The security staff who work here, they were homeless people who came here, who we recognized could maintain order.

The security staff here, they are all older men, they are all level-headed, they maintain order and calm.  We make sure that there are more than enough of them, so that it is always safe here.  They have their own rooms.  We go over with them again and again, that there is to be no drug or alcohol use on the premises; there is to be no fighting, bullying, or intimidation; there is to be no destruction of property, no misuse of property, no theft.

We do have individuals who return here at night, who are over intoxicated.  We do not allow them in the dormitory when they are like this, we allow them to remain in what we call the “ER”.  Anyone who is over-intoxicated, on drugs, or is physically sick, we have a large room which is kind of like an Emergency Room waiting area, where staff is able to observe everyone during the night.

There are individuals that we come to realize, are mentally ill, and are not currently able to be employed.  In order to stay here, we require that they maintain good personal hygeine, they must shower at least every other day, they must wear clean clothes, we provide them with clean clothes.  If they have a lot of junk personal property, we require that they keep it locked up in one of the outside storage bins.  If they can maintain civility, we allow them to stay here.  We try to find things for them to do.  We like for them to take the old bread from the kitchen and go feed the birds out behind the building, and we encourage them to be sure to wave to the people driving by on Palm Beach Drive.

(I had been thinking about this for a long time.  I had thought about more obnoxious and offensive things that I could do, like having the non-working homeless people in Dickinson put on the tackiest possible clothing from thrift stores, and then take them golfing for the afternoon in Dickinson, just to put them in the face of the affluent people here in Dickinson.  As I began to write this post, I became not in the mood to joke about this.  I really would like to have a very large homeless shelter in Dickinson, right there in the field next to Palm Beach Drive.  I don’t want homelessness in Dickinson swept under the rug, I want everybody to know about it and see it.  I have met and known many people in Dickinson who were living in their cars, some of them had current valid commercial driver’s licenses, some of them were skilled tradesmen, some of them had college degrees.  When a person is living in their vehicle, it is very easy for them to become despaired, they worry about buying food, they worry about buying gas for their car, they don’t have good access to showers or bathrooms, and the community treats them with disgust because of their circumstances and appearance.  What is disgusting to me, is that Dickinson could well afford to have had a big warehouse where homeless people could get something to eat, get cleaned up, and get some advisement on what to do, and possibly get some help to get out of town, but Dickinson is not about being kind or helpful to people.)




My Forecast For Dickinson, North Dakota

During the past week I read several newspaper articles and several business journal articles about the price of oil.  Each of these articles explained that the price of oil could go down to $20 per barrel.  It was explained that in the past four or five years, many oil companies took out large loans in order to grow and expand their companies, with the expectation that they would have high revenue in the coming years.  In the past two years, the price of oil has fallen from over $100 per barrel, to $30 per barrel.  The oil companies with large loan debt, are having to continue to pump oil in order to pay the interest on their large loans, even though the price of oil is low, which just continues to add to the oversupply of oil on the market, and keeps the price of oil low.

One article explained that there is about $100 billion in venture capital money, that is waiting to buy the assets of oil companies as they go bankrupt due to the low price of oil.  Once the oil companies go bankrupt, and oil wells are purchased at prices that are well below the costs that went into drilling them, the venture capitalists will be able to sell oil at $20 per barrel, and make money doing it.  When the venture capitalists do this, the price of oil will remain low.  The point is, there are reasons why the price of oil will probably remain low for the next couple of years.

If the price of oil remains low, there will be no new drilling, and no new oil exploration in North Dakota.  It is already known that there is a large reserve of oil in North Dakota in the Bakken formation and the Three Forks formation, but you have to drill about 8,000 feet deep to get it, drill horizontally, and then fracture it, which is costly.  Because of the low price of oil, about 80% of the oil field jobs have gone away in North Dakota since late 2014.

Most of the out-of-state oil field workers went back home when they lost their oil field job.  There were very few high hourly wage jobs with a lot of overtime, outside of the oil field in North Dakota.  Rent was high, there was a shortage of women, it was cold for about seven months out of the year in North Dakota.  Most of the out-of-state workers went home.

I made a joke in one of my past blog posts, that the only people who continued to come to North Dakota in 2015, were people who didn’t watch television news or read the newspaper.  I thought this joke was funny, but it actually is happening.  There are some really unintelligent, low functioning people showing up in Dickinson looking for work and for a place to stay.  The church that I go to is trying to help some of these people that show up at church and ask for help.  I have met these people, and they are really difficult to help, because they have never really understood what is going on where ever they lived.  For instance, in Dickinson now, a cheap hotel costs about $350 per week.  At the temporary labor companies, a worker can maybe get about $350 per week take home pay, if they really, really try, because there is not a lot of work right now.  There is just no way an unskilled laborer who is single, is going to make enough money in Dickinson to afford food and housing.  There is no homeless shelter in Dickinson, so the people that arrive in Dickinson who are poor, low skilled, low intelligence, have a very, very difficult time, especially because it is -15 degrees Fahrenheit right now.  It is really not good when these people show up in Dickinson, because they are just a burden.

There is a second group of people who are moving to Dickinson.  There are a lot of black people moving to Dickinson, and at first I could not understand why.  If you go to fast food restaurants in Dickinson, like McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, you will see many black workers, though the population in Dickinson is about 95% white.  If you go to WalMart, you will see many black workers.  What was happening was that people in Dickinson did not want to work in fast food restaurants or WalMart, and during the oil boom, the wages in these fast food restaurants and WalMart went up to $15 per hour more or less, in order to get people to take these jobs.  To black people that had already been working in fast food and WalMart in other states, $15 per hour was nearly twice what they had been making.  Over the past couple of years, word got out about the wages paid in fast food restaurants and WalMart in Dickinson.

I don’t want to work in McDonalds or Burger King, even if you can make $600 per week.  But for black people from Minneapolis or St. Louis that had already been working in fast food for years, this is the same job for nearly twice the pay.  Also, if these fast food workers have a spouse or a friend that they can split the rent with, they are actually better off financially than they were in Minneapolis or St. Louis.

There have been about 1,000 new apartment units that have been built in Dickinson in the past several years.  Right now the occupancy rate for these new apartment units is at about 30%.  The rent in Dickinson is still high right now.  But because the occupancy rate in the new apartment units is so low, and the oil field workers are not coming back, the apartment unit price is going to drop down much lower, and there are many apartments available.  For a time in the near future, the news spread by the black workers in Dickinson will be that there are very high paying jobs in fast food and WalMart, and there are many nice new apartments, with low rent.  Many, many black workers will continue to move to Dickinson for the next year.

It will take about a year for the wages in fast food restaurants and WalMart in Dickinson to drop down to about $10 per hour, because of the large amount of available workers, and business being much slower.  By that time, the black population in Dickinson will be much higher.  I have written in several previous posts, that most of the women in western North Dakota are unattractive and overweight.  Black men like unattractive white women who are overweight, and unattractive white women who are overweight like black men.  If you don’t know this, try watching the Jerry Springer Show, Divorce Court, Paternity Court, or the People’s Court on television.  After several days of watching, “Who that baby’s daddy?”, you will be convinced of this.  The next boom in Dickinson, will be a baby boom.  Who that baby’s daddy?