SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — City leaders in Sioux Falls are looking for ways to change that and help more people find a place to call home. Next week the city council will hear recommendations from a task group looking for solutions to a rising homeless population in the city.
Homeless advocate Anny Libengood, City Council member Rich Merkouris and Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum took to the stage in front of the downtown Rotary Club.
“People need to build relationships with other people that need help,” Libengood said from the stage.
The discussion centered around what can be done to make a difference.
The task force recommendations include educating the public that homelessness is more than just the people they see on the streets. They also call for supporting the Helpline Center’s Network of Care, and the creation of outreach teams trained to interact and offer help.
Merkouris says his work as the task force chairman has taught him a lot.
“When you talk about homelessness we describe it as three buckets, said Merkouris. “One bucket being mental health and substance abuse challenges, one bucket being generational poverty this is the trajectory that was set for them at a very young age, have never know anything different and the third bucket is circumstances, a person’s house burned down, they lost their job, they lost their spouse, so in each of those buckets people need different services to help them move forward.”
Tom Hanson: And who can you help the most out of those buckets?
Merkouris: The circumstance bucket is always the one we can help the quickest because they want help.
The creation of outreach teams will be the most visible of the task force recommendations. Police Chief Thum says police don’t really have the time or resources to make lasting changes.
“We are kind of just dealing with the symptoms of the moment. An outreach team that can go out and make relationships, understand people’s situations, come not from a law enforcement capacity they can really have a chance of making inroads, building relationships and, steering people towards resources and getting them on the road to a more stable situation,” said Chief Thum.
The task force will present its full report and funding requests to the city council on November 22nd.