RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a similar debate in South Dakota’s two largest cities. Panhandling is legal in the state, but some community leaders say there are better ways to help.
Police in Rapid City and Sioux Falls say rather than buying food or paying bills, the money collected on street corners is often used to feed addictions. That’s the message on these signs posted in central Sioux Falls.
They discourage drivers from giving money to panhandlers and encourage donating to local charities. While it’s good for charities, some people question if the city is shaming people who are asking for help.
‘It’s okay to say no to panhandlers.’ This is what new signs in downtown Rapid City say.
“It offers a cellular number that a donation can be transmitted to. So whether that actually receives a transmission or just causes someone to think that there is a better way to give that’s important,” Mayor Allender said.
“We just want people to be safe. Winter is coming up, I don’t know what the weather is going to be like, but everything we have heard it’s going to be chillier than normal so we just want people to know that we will take anybody in and we will get them the care that they need,” Lysa Allison, Exec. Director of Cornerstone Rescue Mission, said.
According to some of the homeless service facilities in Rapid City, the number of visitors they are seeing are on the rise.
“From 2019 to currently, we have seen quite a jump in the people that are coming in for services,” Melanie Timm, Hope Center Exec. Director, said.
That’s why Mayor Steve Allender says he’s encouraging you to donate your time or money to homeless care facilities.
“If you truly want to help the homeless, help the organizations that help the homeless,” Mayor Allender said.
As the weather cools off, homeless service facilities in Rapid City are asking for warm clothing donations.