Jeremy Scott and his dog Buddy are back under the bridge; Lori Rogers is in jail.
Despite more than $5,000 raised through a Go Fund campaign started by Carissa Markuson, she and Georgia Nagel stopped helping Scott and Rogers.
"It takes more than money," said Nagel, "It takes people willing to step up...It is so appreciated how the community stepped up with offers of food, clothing, money, but we really needed to have assistance on the government end of it, the legal end of it...mental health, counseling, that was beyond us."
Markuson and Nagel straightened out whatever they could for Scott, trying to get the gears rolling for him to get what he needed to rejoin society: a birth certificate, an I.D., etc. The task proved to be too much.
"I was getting texts. I was getting messages. I was getting Facebooked," said Nagel. "At one time, I had probably 50 messages that I had to return - people wanting to help - and I was trying to do this between dog rounds."
Nagel and Markuson both have full-time jobs. Nagel owns a pet sitting business, and Markuson owns a travel agency. The duo struggled to find time during the day to get Scott where he needed to go, a challenge for Nagel, Markuson, and Scott.
"It was, I know, very overwhelming for him," said Nagel.
Pastor Sue Koesterman, executive director of Churches United in Fargo, has worked with the homeless population. She says her experience has taught her and her employees that homelessness is a multifaceted issue, something that has taken years for her organization to hone.
"Gradually, we came to recognize that what people who are experiencing homelessness, what they really need is some assistance accessing housing and other programs," said Koesterman.
Churches United requires each person or family to meet with case managers upon admission to the shelter. Case managers at Churches United assess each individual and decide what resources in the community they need to be connected to - and the resources needed are quite diverse.
Chemical dependency is a major factor addressed, among other lesser-known resources the homeless population needs. Koesterman says her caseworkers connect people with mental health resources. There is a nurse on site. Childhood family education is also key for many.
Even so, Koesterman says there's room to improve: "We need to have a more holistic, seamless apparatus for assisting people who are unstable in their housing or homeless."
Detroit Lakes has proven to be lacking in this approach, from what Marukuson and Nagel saw during their brief time helping Scott.
"Limited resources in Detroit Lakes...that was probably the biggest part," said Markuson, thinking of what got in the way of helping Scott. "What very limited funds there are for agencies around here to help out, they dry out so quick."
Mahube, one of the main resources in the area for the homeless, is limited to the grants they are awarded. The grants are numerable, but they are spread thin between five counties, none of which have a homeless shelter. Mahube has grants to help transitional housing for youth, transitional housing in general. They have what's called an Emergency Solutions Grant, which is split between covering deposit assistance, first month's rent and emergency hotel stays.
"Again it has to cover five counties," says Marsha Otte, the housing supervisor at Mahube. "When you have to divide it by five, it's less people we can serve in each county."
The Refuge, still rebuilding after a debilitating fire, acted as the soup kitchen of Detroit Lakes, offering free meals, along with donated personal items to those in need.
The resources are limited and come with stipulations, of course.
Becker County Human Services has a number of resources as well.
"We start by offering them applications for food, cash, and healthcare," said Shannon Funk, the financial assistance supervisor at Becker County Human Services. "We can do referrals."
Everything from chemical dependency referrals to approving Salvation Army funds, they are good for.
"We also have what's called emergency assistance," she said, "but there's things they have to look at and approve first. We don't want to use emergency assistance and put them in a place to have them evicted the next month."
Many of these programs require a person to be somewhat established to utilize. They need to prove sustainable income in order for approval, something that someone who is long-term homeless probably can not show.
Markuson highlighted that a lot of resources focus on families, as well. They simply tend to favor or prioritize families in need rather than individuals in need.
"There's so many reasons it doesn't work out," said Markuson, adding, "People have to want the help."
When it came down to it, the task proved to be overwhelming for all parties involved despite resources available. With homelessness being multifaceted, and Scott needing a number of different resources to get off the ground, there may have needed to be a different, more conclusive approach to helping someone like Scott.
"The reality is that housing is very expensive, and stable housing forms the basis for all of the other things that people need to do to be stable in their lives, whether that's for children to be able to access education, whether that's someone with substance abuse to be able to begin the road to recovery," said Koesterman. "If you don't know where you're going to sleep tonight, keeping all of your mental health appointments is not at the top of your list."
What it comes down to is a need for connected resources in an area.
"It's almost like there needs to be a committee...a social worker, a mental health worker, a housing worker, maybe even a chaplain, an alcohol counselor," said Nagel. "I think the public would step up to help if there was some kind of organization...there's people more than willing to donate."
(The Tribune's Robert Williams contributed to this story)