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Majority Of South Dakota Homeless In Minnehaha County

December 16, 2013, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Majority Of South Dakota Homeless In Minnehaha County

The latest homeless count was taken in late September and 1,155 people are dealing with homelessness in some way.

Based on the latest results, over half of South Dakota's homeless population can be found in Minnehaha County, either consisting of people going through brief financial problems or those with no permanent home.

"Our numbers here at the Good Shepherd Center definitely have kind of stayed pretty even. We didn't see a big influx. We haven't seen a big decrease though, either," Good Shepherd Center executive director Maria Krell said.

One of the big reasons for this high number could be due to the city of Sioux Falls and a tradition of caring.

"When people think of Sioux Falls, they think of such a giving community. So, a lot of people think, 'well, if I'm going to be homeless or need assistance, I'm going to go to Sioux Falls,'" Krell said.

Krell says the numbers could be exaggerated because the survey was taken during a warmer time of the year, but those who find themselves moving from place to place feel the number is way too low.

"I've recently spent 21 days at the Mission, but then you have to leave for 30 days before you can come back. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time here at the Good Samaritan Center during the day," Mike Nelson said.

Nelson would like to see the city of Sioux Falls do something in response to the county's high homeless population.

"There's not enough daily shelters where people can just go and sit for a day compared to the number of people that are homeless," Nelson said.

For a permanent solution, Krell feels there should me more affordable housing in the city.

"Affordable housing being the 30 to 40 percent of somebody's income per month, not the $800 for a two-bedroom. If you're not making $14.61 an hour, you can't afford that a month and those are tough jobs to come by," Krell said.

From those on the street to those who try to help them, the feelings are clear; the homeless population in the county is too high and changes need to be made to bring it down.

Krell says that there will be another homeless count coming in January where she feels there will be a more accurate count of the homeless population in Minnehaha County.

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