First reading on Homelessness Street Outreach Program in Sioux Falls

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The Sioux Falls City Council held its first reading to discuss a new Homelessness Street Outreach Program.

The program was recommended by the homeless task force in Sioux Falls in 2022.

Since then, the task force and the city have been working to bring the program to life.

Funding to enter a partnership with an outside organization was specifically addressed at the meeting.

Discussing the need in the community.

“We have at any given time somewhere around five hundred or so individuals who identify as homeless or are experiencing homelessness,” said Jenna Harris, Policy advisor to Mayor Paul TenHaken.

Remarking on the team efforts within the city and different organizations.

“We took one of the recommendations, the streets outreach program and put together our own internal task force with the police department and the public health department to determine what the best course of action is for Sioux Falls,” said Harris.

Dr. Charles Chima presented the reading before City Council and highlighted many of the program’s benefits.

Explaining the approach, the street program will take.

“There needs to be a more proactive approach because what is happening now is a lot of it has been reactive where people call and file complaints about some challenges going on in the streets and depending on the call P.D of Fire Rescue may be dispatched,” said Dr. Charles Chima, City of Sioux Falls Public Health Director.

Saying the goal of the program is to utilize other sources to respond specifically.

“It’s really about meeting people where they are, we know not everyone is going to come out and be ready to receive specific care or get the specific help that has been recommended but you keep nudging and providing the support and empathy,” said Chima.

He discussed some of the next steps to complete the program.

“The city will be looking for agencies that are in the business of serving similar clients to respond to this RFB so we can select the best partner to walk with the city,” said Chima.

If the program passes Harris says the goal is to have teams working on the street by summer.