Organizers continue call for Rapid City government to help with homeless
With two weeks left before a daytime mission center in Rapid City closes, about two dozen people are continuing to urge the city council to help keep the homeless population warm.
With cold weather already here, they’re pressuring the Rapid City government and council to fill the gap of services that will be left behind once a daytime mission closes next month. The council rejected a plan for the nonprofit to move to a larger facility.
There are approximately 500 homeless people in the Rapid City metro area. That number has increased steadily since the COVID pandemic.
Johnathan Old Horse is the pastor with Woyatan Lutheran Church, which has opened its doors in prior winters for overnight shelter. He said the church receives pushback when it tries to triage the issue.
“When we bring those solutions to the table, those weren’t the solutions they’re looking for,” Old Horse said. “They ask for these things, but they’re just as bad because they’re wishy-washy. We get punished when we help our people.”
The Woyatan Lutheran Church is mobilizing its warming bus for a second year in a row.
A recent report from a community workshop recommends using empty properties in town as shelters and services for basic care like showers, toilets, laundry and warmth.
Melanie Timm is the president of the Hope Center, which is closing its doors on December 8. She said she’s asked multiple times a day what the mission will do next.
“I finally asked one of our guests, 'What are you going to do?' His response was one word, ‘Survive.’” Timm said. “We deserve better than just trying to figure out how to survive.”
Meanwhile, the common council held a discussion Monday to learn more about three entities that provide services in town.
There are both sober and detox overnight shelters near downtown. Officials with the Cornerstone Rescue Mission and Pennington County Sheriff’s office say they take in extra people when temperatures drop.
Rapid City Mayor Jason Salamun said the city is putting $2 million toward crisis services.
“We’re a community that’s saying we want to do something about it. We differ on our approaches. I for one think the city government should stay out of it more and more," Salamun said. "However, we are providing a good chunk of funding—this council is providing a good chunk of funding.”
Meanwhile, various groups across the city are collecting warm clothes, include the Rapid City Arts Council located in the Dahl Arts Center.