One report shows the number of South Dakota families without homes increased in 2016. Federal officials say there are many variables at play when considering homelessness in South Dakota.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development 2016 Homeless Report is based on a single night in January of this year.
On that night, over one thousand people experienced homelessness throughout the state. That’s a nearly 47 percent increase from 2010.
According to the report, the number of homeless families in South Dakota jumped up nearly 30 percent from 2015, but at the same time homeless veterans decreased by over 30 percent.
Roger Jacobs is South Dakota’s Field Office Director for HUD. He says this data is a point in time count, so the numbers have a tendency to fluctuate.
“In the last year or so, we’ve had more participation from tribes, which is extremely good, we like to see so that we can get a true snapshot, so that may have some of the reasons for the increased in homeless families because there is a lack of housing on the reservations and unfortunately some of those individuals experience homelessness because of that," says Jacobs.
Jacobs says affordable housing, unemployment, and substance abuse are the three main factors causing homelessness in the state. He says ending homelessness is not always a clear cut route.
“Each individual and each family experiencing homeless has their own unique situation and you have to almost address it on an individual case by case basis and not take a broad paintbrush and say we need ‘this’ in general,” says Jacobs.
But Jacobs says housing is a major issue in certain communities, and that some state funding sources, like Build South Dakota, are diminishing.
“It doesn’t look like in 2017 there will be much, if any, of those funds available which will create a little bit of a gap because they were used in a number of activities –for some homeless prevention activities, to rehabbing properties to down payment closing costs assistance for mid to lower income households,” says Jacobs.
Jacobs says HUD plans to continue tackling the issue of homelessness by working with existing programs and forming new ones.