SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As we’ve said many times, finding housing in Sioux Falls is really tough right now, but imagine what it’s like if you’re a convicted felon.
It’s even more difficult.
There are so many barriers facing those who are looking for adequate and safe housing.
They’ve been negatively impacted by the justice system, because they now have a criminal record, but as you’re about to see help is on the way.
“I never thought anyone ever cared about me before,” Kaitlin Schriever said.
That was Kaitlin Schriever when she graduated from drug court back in 2016.
As an addict, she remembers how hard it was trying to find a place, any place, to live.
“I became homeless and ended up in jail,” Schriever said.
Schriever says drug court saved her life, but also got her off the streets.
“Back then it was a lot harder to find a safe place to live where you weren’t hanging out with people doing drugs, child molesters honestly, nowhere safe,” Schriever said.
That’s going to change.
Thanks to a new partnership announced Wednesday, Sioux Falls will get $3.5 million dollars from the MacArthur Foundation and will become one of four cities from across the country that were hand-selected to be a part of ‘Just Home Project’; a national program designed to improve access to housing for those who have served time.
Mayor Paul Tenhaken says he has seen the need and calls it critical.
“The number one thing they wanted to talk about, everybody had their hand in the air, they wanted to talk about housing and share stories of how hard it is if you have a record to try and find housing, or try and find a landlord who will take a chance on you,” TehHaken said.
“But it’s always how do you start, how do you get it off the ground and this is the start, this is the first step,” Minnehaha County Commissioner Dean Karsky said.
A step that will go a long way in helping people get back on their feet.
“One of the primary barriers to individuals in our community to achieving and maintaining sobriety is having a safe, secure, and sober home to go home to,” Judge Robin Houwman said.
No one knows that better than Schriever.
“There are so many people out there who want to be sober and clean and where you live and where you feel safe is such a huge aspect of that,” Schriever said. “I think this project is going to make a huge difference for a lot of people, change lives? it is definitely going to change lives.”
As Commissioner Karsky said, this is the first step, the next step will be to come up with a plan for how to best spend that money.
Schriever will help in making those decisions as she’s been asked to serve on the steering committee.