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Whittier Shelter Proposal Raises Concerns

February 21, 2014, 9:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Whittier Shelter Proposal Raises Concerns
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Scott Thorson says he sees it almost daily.

"We fight this battle every day," Welcome Mat Laundromat owner Scott Thorson said.

Chronically drunk homeless people panhandling and loitering in the Whittier neighborhood, and in his Laundromat, near the corner of 10th Street and Indiana Avenue.

"The real issue is the alcoholic homeless that don't respect the property. They don't respect what you're doing," Thorson said.

Thorson is always looking to improve his Laundromat but he says it's been hard with the homeless who drink and wander the streets. That's why he's concerned that the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese is looking to put another homeless shelter just a block up the street.

"The people are here; the homeless who wander the streets are here.  Nobody argues that.  But we're very concerned that may increase and we're at a point, we can't tolerate that. We can't do that," Thorson said.

Even as KELOLAND News was shooting this story at the proposed site of the new shelter, the news crew was targeted by a panhandler.  Shortly after the encounter, the individual was buying beer at the corner gas station.  [Watch that conversation here]

"They have people who are loitering by their doors panhandling.  That needs to be addressed and it needs to be stopped," Whittier neighborhood resident Gigi Rieder said.

Rieder has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years.  She says the concerns of residents and business owners need to be addressed, but she also sees why another homeless shelter in the Whittier neighborhood would be a good idea.

It would be located within walking distance of other services for low-income families including the Banquet and the Union Gospel Mission.

"I think us, as human beings, we can learn to talk and keep the communication open to come up with a result," Rieder said.

Thorson agrees the community needs to help those in need but he says the problem of the drunken homeless in the area also needs to be addressed.

"We're a caring neighborhood and we care about the people that are here, but we can't take anymore of the in the street and in your face kind of homelessness," Thorson said.

The Sioux Falls Planning Commission will hold a meeting on the proposed shelter at 6 p.m. on March 5.

 

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