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Count Expects To Find More Homeless Children

September 25, 2012, 6:08 AM by Kellee Azar

Count Expects To Find More Homeless Children

South Dakota is gearing up for its annual homeless count, which will be held across the state Tuesday.

The state is divided up each year into regions: West River, East River and Central South Dakota. 

At 7 a.m., a group of volunteers along with some from the Sioux Falls Homeless Advisory board will meet at the Good Shepherd Ministry Center to begin their count.  They hope to get a good count of the number of homeless adults and children within Minnehaha County.

Last year, the statewide homeless count identified 1,428 homeless people in South Dakota with 729 of those living in Minnehaha County.  Of those 729 in the county, 174 were children. This year they expect to find even more children on the streets.

"With some preliminary reports, we have been hearing that numbers may or may not be up.  But just from some of our friends that work in the business, we have been hearing that numbers for children are definitely up for this year and staying in hotels.  So that is just an alarming factor for us," volunteer Nicole Burger said.

Stacey Tieszen with the Sioux Falls Homeless Advisory Board has been out since 3:30 Tuesday morning starting to count the homeless.

"So what we're trying to do is put a face and a story to people I don't think a lot of people understand what we have for a homeless population.  So this is our actual one attempt every year to try and get that out there and have people understand what's really going on," Tieszen said.

The volunteers found 22 people lined up at Labor Ready Tuesday morning before it opened.

"And we interviewed as many of them as would be willing to talk to us and we heard stories ranging from, 'it's a 15-hour day for us when we go.'  'We're making minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and really hoping you get sent out.' An individual that we talked to who was suffering from some PTSD issues who could no longer have the job she had before she was sent," Tieszen said.

The homeless count is required by the Federal Government every year in order to get funding for programs to help the homeless.

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