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'A bad situation;' Hope Center in Rapid City to close doors

Officials with the Hope Center say they'll close their downtown space to guests on December 8.
Lee Strubinger
Officials with the Hope Center say they'll close their downtown space to guests on December 8.

A day center for houseless people in Rapid City says it’s closing its doors in December. 

The announcement comes a month after the Rapid City Common Council denied the organization a permit to move the center from downtown to another location.

The Hope Center is a mission that said it serves anywhere from 200 to 300 people a day. The current space has a capacity of 62.

In August, the Methodist Church notified the mission it would renew their lease for one more year, with their rent more than doubling. Officials with the organization say they were not financially prepare for the increased cost.

“Some people just use us for a mail center. They come in. They need us five minutes. They’re in. They’re out. They go about their day. No big deal," said Melanie Timm, the executive director of the Hope Center. "Other people, we’re their family. They’re here open to close. We’re a part of their every day. There’s all kinds of people in between. I don’t know. It’s bad situation.” 

Over the last year, the Hope Center worked to move its operations to a larger facility in North Rapid. After neighborhood opposition, the Rapid City Common Council rejected the move 8 to 1.

Timm calls the rejection ironic.

“The Hope Center is homeless,” she said.

The move had the support of the Rapid City Police Department. Mayor Jason Salamun said he’s disappointed the Hope Center is closing.

“There’s a misconception that it’s somehow my fault. It’s not,” Salamun said. “I’m bummed for them. I think there are good people that have been on staff there—that have volunteered there. My wife was on staff there. We know a lot of the folks. I think they’ve been doing important work for a long time.”

Salamun said the community will have to absorb the mail and laundry service the mission provides.

Hope Center officials said it will remain a nonprofit as it figures out next steps. The last day for guest services is Dec. 8.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.