ROCHESTER,Minn- Communities across the nation are dealing with homelessness. On any given night in the U.S., there are more than half a million people homeless. That figure comes from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. In Rochester, there was a session taking place Tuesday to give agencies that interact with the homeless population guidance.
About three hundred people from law enforcement to library employees came out here to learn techniques on how to deal with the homeless population.
Kimberly Edson works at the Rochester Public Library. She says a lot of homeless people seek refuge at the library. For some, it’s a second home. She says the session Tuesday offered both insight and tools for interacting with an often misunderstood population.
"People experiencing homelessness are inherently dangerous but it's very dangerous to be homeless and makes me want to interact more compassionately,” Edson said.”It also helps me to understand the trauma that people have gone through.”
Ryan Dowd was the keynote speaker. Dowd runs a homeless shelter in Illinois for close to two decades and is widely regarded as an expert on the topic.
“A lot of it starts with conversations and caring enough about the issue to start moving it forward,” Dowd said. “We have to figure out what's going on in the community and how can we address it because of homelessness it fixable. Homelessness didn't exist in our country 40 years ago."
Dowd is touring the U.S. the next few weeks to continue sharing his advice with people who serve and interact with the homeless population.