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August 12, 2014 04:55 PM

Vandalism Sets Back Low-Income Housing Project

Sioux Falls, SD

Tipped over cans, spilled paint and brushes are left behind after vandalism takes over a low-income housing project in the Whittier neighborhood.  Wesley United Methodist Church pastor Laura Borman couldn't tell what happened at first glance, but then she circled the building.

"You can obviously tell by looking in the back that someone had broken in and you can tell the door they got in the front has been beat with a hammer. Just a mess; a mess," Borman said.

Windows are painted over, profanity is drawn on the ground and parts of the exterior that were once yellow are now black.

"They estimate it at about $10,000 in damage. Officers were able to find an 11-year-old boy who was responsible for that. He was charged with third-degree burglary and intentional damage to property," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

The five-unit complex will cater to elderly families with income concerns, and Borman says that the tenants would be welcomed members of the church. It's a project church members were eager to see completed, but now the feeling of safety has been taken away.

"This was supposed to be a refuge for people to live and come and say 'Ok, I can be here. I can know that it's safe. I can walk out my door. I can walk to the church,'" Borman said.

Borman says that even though the name of the 11-year-old isn't being released, church members likely know exactly who did the damage. It's a moment in time that she says will hopefully be forgotten once the project is complete.

"We hope that as they wipe out the words that were written and as they repair the doors, it'll just be a memory," Borman said.

Borman says that ideally they wanted to have this building open for people to move in by this fall, but it's coming together slower than originally anticipated. She says that while she's disappointed in what's happened, she knows that this complex will soon serve its original intention.

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