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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Sioux Falls programs address rising homeless population

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024   

Homelessness in South Dakota may be down overall, but the state's urban areas are an exception. New programs in Sioux Falls aim to address it.

The most recent point-in-time data show the number of people unhoused in Sioux Falls rose by 20% between 2022 and 2023. Native people experience homelessness at a disproportionately high rate, making up nearly 40% of the unhoused population in the area. So, South Dakota Urban Indian Health launched the Wo'Okiye program last year, with case management services and help making and getting to medical appointments.

Monica Bailey, program manager and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member, said these wraparound services give staff a variety of options to respond.

"If they want to go to treatment or if they want to talk. We also provide smudging, therapeutic beading and sewing. We just meet people where they're at on their journey," she said.

Bailey added the organization is averaging 1,300 contacts a month -- an increase from about 260 last September, after launching its initial street outreach efforts a year ago.

The City of Sioux Falls also hired its first Homelessness Services Coordinator in April. Bailey said Wo'Okiye will work closely with the coordinator, and has partnered with others in the city.

"For example, we have a great relationship with downtown Sioux Falls Library, where they can call us and we can go in and check on someone, and bring them to our space or see if we need to do a warm handoff," Bailey said.

The unhoused population in Rapid City also grew last year, although homelessness across the state has decreased nearly 8% since 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


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