Entries Tagged 'Homeless' ↓

How do we limit panhandling?

Patrick Lalley, the Sioux Falls reporter for Forum news took a stab at it;

And maybe that’s true for some. But what people working in social services will tell you is that the panhandlers aren’t the people showing up at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, the primary shelter for the homeless in downtown Sioux Falls.

There have been some misconceptions out there as to WHO is panhandling and why.

Most assume that panhandling, at some level, must be illegal. But it’s not, as long as the person is on the sidewalk, not standing in the street obstructing traffic and not harassing the public.

But you can shut off the tap;

But, he (Mayor TenHaken) has said many times, the only way to stop panhandling is to cut off the cash. Give your money to the many agencies whose mission is to help people. The city has signs around downtown that say just that.

South Dakota blogger Scott Ehrisman takes it a step further and suggests that when drivers hand money out of the car window, they should be ticketed for obstructing traffic, not the panhandler.

It’s an intriguing idea because it spreads the social burden.

Maybe the threat of paying even a $10 ticket — same as a parking violation — changes the mental equation.

It’s one thing to give money to a person in a bad way. It’s quite another to have to give it to the government.

I have also suggested this to a Homeless Task Force member as something to consider. It would probably get pushback from the public, but maybe that is a good reason to try it.

Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force Meeting, 9/12/2022

I have been hearing rumors for years from Minnehaha County officials (elected and non-elected) that other towns and cities were buying bus tickets and sending their homeless to Sioux Falls. During the meeting on Monday, this was confirmed by Kari Benz from the MC. She said while many other towns in SOUTH DAKOTA were sending them here to take care of them, they also come from Florida, Texas and California.

While it is disappointing we are getting people from other states, what is more disheartening is our fellow SD communities have decided to use Sioux Falls as a dumping ground for what they might consider undesirables. I would encourage MC to start sending these towns and counties a bill for providing the services. Other counties can’t use MC’s jail without paying a fee so why do they think they can just use our homeless services for free? The homeless doesn’t pay for these services, WE DO, the taxpayers of this community and county.

I have said to solve some of these issues, we are going to have to work with all parties and taxpayers. We spend millions each year in operating, bond payments and maintenance of our entertainment facilities (some of which sat completely empty for a year during Covid) but we don’t have any money to build another overnight shelter? Give me a break!

This is what happens when you have growth for growth sakes and throw gasoline on the fire of development with 20 year tax rebates (TIFs) and other incentives. The incentive needs to be in job training, affordable housing and wage increases. The developers, banksters and bondsters are fat enough, let them sleep under a bridge every once in awhile.

Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force takes public input

Here are some takeaways from last night’s meeting (it only took 12 hours this time to get the video up, still don’t know why they don’t live stream);

• Several complaints about the mismanagement of Dudley House, the way they are treating clients, not taking care of situations, working with clients, interviewing them, etc.

• The public (city, county) is not properly funding the management of homelessness and there needs to be more police foot patrols.

• Panhandlers have taken over the neighborhood (Before the signs went up about not giving to panhandlers, my SIGN idea was to make it clear that GIVING to panhandlers out of the window of your vehicle while in traffic is ILLEGAL. There is NO purpose in giving violations or shaming panhandlers, it won’t stop them from asking, not to mention they have a 1st Amendment right to ask for money. The solution is making it clear to motorists that you can be fined for obstructing traffic. The only way we can get panhandling under control is shutting off the tap, that means cracking down on the contributors).

• The Dudley house is in a bad location. I suggested when they picked this location that there is plenty of space just north of the jail. Not only would it be close to law enforcement it would be within a few blocks of Falls Community Health and The Link. The Dudley house needs to close its current location and move.

• The 9th Street Alley that runs along the south side of the Dudley needs to be closed and fenced off.

• The clients need to participate in their recovery.

While nobody brought this up during the meeting, I know that there is a lack of transitional housing in Sioux Falls. The legislative/policy body of the city, the council, could write ordinances that require developers to provide so many efficiency, felon friendly, transitional units for every regular unit they build. They could also require rent control in these units that only have their rent increased with inflation.

Homeless Task Force meeting

I have a few takeaways from the meeting;

• There needs to be more felon friendly efficiency options for transitional housing. Regular market rate apartments are just too expensive right now for people looking for transitional housing.

• There needs to be officers dedicated to helping the homeless community.

• Religious discrimination needs to end (I wasn’t quite certain how often this actually happens, but needs to be looked at.)

• The most surprising thing I heard was that the different organizations, while somewhat working together, don’t have the infrastructure set up to work together on a more regular basis because their missions are all different. I think they work really hard to work together, but it seems it is all on a volunteer basis and they are NOT mandating they work together.

At the end of the meeting I heard member Michelle Erpenbach ask Chair Merkouris,

“So the work sessions will not be recorded?”

It cut off before he answered her. I have reached out to Rich and told him that the meetings need to live stream, because waiting 2 1/2 days for a meeting to post to YouTube just doesn’t cut it for transparency. I am not sure why this committee or board meeting is any different, in fact, I think this is a very important board, and they really need to approach this with transparency. Nothing gets solved in the dark.

The next meeting is Monday at 7 PM.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, August 2-3, 2022

PLANNING COMMISSION ENTIRE AGENDA ON CONSENT FOR 2ND MONTH IN A ROW

Planning Meeting • Wednesday August 3 • 6 PM

As if it were not bad enough that the members barely have a quorum each month, have multiple conflicts of interest and the agenda reads like Chinese algebra, for the 2nd month in a row they put everything on the consent agenda. Of course, the public can pull an item for discussion, but rarely do. I also found it interesting that the entire agenda is in consent considering Item 2 (I) has NO recommendation from staff.

THE SECRETLY SELECTED HOMELESS TASK FORCE WILL HAVE FIRST MEETING

Homeless Task Force • Wednesday August 3 • 1 PM

While the task force has stated the meetings will be recorded, I am not sure if they will live stream. I still have not heard why the members were secretly selected behind closed doors and there wasn’t an open application process. Not sure this group of ‘specials’ is cut out for the job;

Rich Merkouris – City Council, Pastor

Marshall Selberg – City Council, Real Estate

Curt Soehl – City Council, Insurance Salesman

Michelle Erpenbach – Sioux Falls Thrive

Kari Benz – Director of Human Services · Lincoln/Minnehaha County

Mike Curtis – Crop production Services – Area Sales Manager (?)

Anny Libengood – Anny Libengood – South Dakota Multi-Housing Association

Terry Liggins – non-profit called The Hurdle Life Coach Foundation

From 2015 – “Terry Daron Liggins, age 29, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the conspiracy charge, and 24 months on the ID theft charge, to be served consecutively.  Upon release from prison he will be on supervised release for 3 years.  Liggins was also ordered to make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $339,535, and to two ID theft victims in the amount of $866.83.”

Andy Patterson – President/CEO · Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation

Jesse Schmidt – Better Business Bureau

Dustin Haber – Bender Commercial Realty

Rebecca Wimmer – Coordinator of Community Partnerships · Sioux Falls School District

Kadyn Wittman – Development Director YMCA

Budget Hearing • Tuesday August 2 • 3 PM

REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING FULL OF CONSULTING FEES AND CRAZY NEITZERT AMENDMENTS

Regular Council Meeting • Tuesday August 2 • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts

Sub-Item #6, Aquatic and Ice Rink Development – Vision Plan for Kuehn, Frank Olson, McKennan, Terrace, and Laurel Oak Pools; Agreement for professional services, PROS Consulting, $99K. As I have mentioned at council meetings, we have plenty of dusty studies on the shelf of what pools need to be fixed. I sometimes wonder if Parks Director Don Swanson is getting a kickback from the consulting firms?

Sub-Item #10, Mass Notification Software Contract Renewal. Notification tool is utilized by multiple City depts. to notify residents of Sioux Falls in the event of emergency, and other mass public notifications, Everbridge, $47,745.48 per year for 3 years. I find this one intriguing considering I thought the cell phone companies help pay for this thru other fees and taxes. Can someone clarify?

Sub-Item #15, Legal Services Engagement; Amendment to professional services agreement, Woods Fuller Schultz & Smith P.C., $20K. And what is this for?

Sub-Item #29, Rail Yard Redevelopment – Quiet Zone Preliminary Design; Agreement for professional services, Alfred Benesch & Company, $73K. While a design certainly has to be done, why on earth would the taxpayers of Sioux Falls being paying for a preliminary design before the railroads have agreed to it? What about the state? The Feds? Why doesn’t the developer that wants this pay for it? How about the Department of Transportation, or better yet the Railroad? And what pocket is this coming from? I think we need to get everyone on board before we start designing this and sneaking it in the consent agenda.

Item #42, 2nd Reading: Deferred from the meeting of Tuesday, July 19, 2022; AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY AMENDING CHAPTER 30: ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS, MOTIONS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS REQUIRING COUNCIL APPROVAL BY REQUIRING AN ANNOTATED AGENDA. (This item was referred to the Operations Committee at the Council Meeting of April 13, 2022 and reported to the Council at the Meeting of July 19, 2022). This is a long time coming, and I think the council needs to make more bold steps towards transparency. Of course, I am NOT going to hold my breath. It took Janet Brekke 4 years to get this on the agenda, and when she finally got it there, the council deferred it. They have NO interest in expanding transparency.

Item #43, 2nd Reading: AN ORDINANCE REVISING § 124.012 OF CITY CODE THAT PROVIDES FOR SIOUX AREA METRO TRANSIT FARES. This is also long past due, and with little fanfare, the kids ride for free!

Item #51, 2nd Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA, DIRECTING SUBMISSION OF AN INITIATED MEASURE TO PROHIBIT THE CONSTRUCTION OR PERMITTING OF NEW SLAUGHTERHOUSES WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS TO A VOTE OF THE ELECTORS OF THE CITY AT THE GENERAL ELECTION TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2022. I still think this ballot question is unconstitutional, and if I was a city councilor, I would vote to NOT put it on the ballot.

COUNCILOR NEITZERT TRIES TO CLAIM NON-PROFITS ARE NON-PARTISAN, LMFAO!

Item #65, A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE 2022 CITY COUNCIL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. Part of the changes have to do with the travel policies of the council. Of course, councilor Neitzert who was impeached for going to a partisan event with the Mayor and former Deputy Chief of Staff, TJ Nelson, now wants to define that non-profits are non-partisan. His amendment is as follows;

For purposes of this policy, any non-profit organization under Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code is not considered a partisan organization.

Not only is that incredibly false its ludicrous he would even propose something so ridiculous. And if a majority of the council approves his amendment, we will make sure the IRS is aware that the Sioux Falls City Council thinks non-profits are non-partisan, unicorns exist and the tooth fairy is my neighbor.

City of Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force lacks neighborhood representation

Besides the fact that there was NO public call for membership to this group they have NO one from the neighborhood (residents or business owners) serving the on the group.

While we could certainly wait to see what this group accomplishes, it’s hard for me to have much confidence when the selection of the task force was done in secret and lacking transparency.

While some of the members of the board do work in affordable housing and social work, I’m not sure athletes, realtors and directors of business organizations really have a grasp of what is going on in this neighborhood. Where is the director of one of the homeless shelters like the Mission or Dudley house on the board? Or a rep from the Banquet? What about a pastor or deacon? A business owner or homeowner in this neighborhood would have been an excellent addition to the group. It is pretty much a group of bureaucrats that are going to craft policies that uphold the bureaucracy instead of fixing the problem.

The SFPD really needs a group of officers dedicated to outreach to the homeless. That would be a great first step. Instead of reacting to the problem, a proactive approach.

I live in the Nelson Park neighborhood, and to be quite honest with you I have never seen so many homeless people before, the problem has exploded.

I do wish them luck and I want to thank Chair Merkouris for wanting to take this on. I also think it is wonderful the meetings will be open to the public, and WILL be recored. Nothing can be accomplished in the dark.

Did the City of Sioux Falls give the Bishop Dudley House an Ultimatum?

I have been hearing rumors that the city has met with the shelter to tell them to clean up their act, and it comes with a timeline.

It has been NO secret that they have wanted to build efficiency transitional housing on the lot next to the shelter but many are pushing back on what is currently not working.

The supposed rumor involves the Catholic Diocese, the Dudley House board of directors, the SFPD and the city council calling on the director of the house to get her poop in a group or funding may be in jeopardy.

The biggest complaint from area businesses is that people not in the house are taking up camp on the premises and the surrounding neighborhood is not pleased. The police may also be frustrated by how calls for service are being handled.

While I am pleased the city may be putting pressure on the shelter, this really needs to be in the public forum with public input. This process could go a lot smoother with participation and transparency.

Downtown Sioux Falls Nelson Park is the new day drinking place to be

As I mentioned a few days ago, Nelson Park’s green space north of the pool is now the new drinking hangout. If you stroll thru the park you will see clothes in the trees, empty food and beer containers, people passed out or drinking. This is why they put the banner on the pool fence.

Also, you can apparently do your laundry under the Arc of Dreams in the Big Sioux. And yes, this lady was washing her clothes in the river. I heard the E-Coli gets out stains.

Homeless advocates email council to vote against Task Force

While I support the task force to combat homelessness, I do agree with a couple of aspects from the people who emailed the city council to oppose it. The data and research has been done for several years, you just need to act and I think the TF should consist of stakeholders in the neighborhood, not friends of the mayor and council. Michelle makes some good points about the opportunity to act over the years. Mayor TenHaken promised in his 1st campaign he would make it a priority, the problem has only gotten worse. It will be an interesting debate tonight.

The first email is from former city councilor Michelle Erpenbach;

Good afternoon, City Council members.

Thank you for your service, and for taking a few minutes to review my reasons for asking you to vote no tomorrow on item 76 — against yet another Homeless Task Force. I would be there in person Tuesday, but I will be working in a neighborhood where Thrive’s Kid Link initiative is supporting programming that seeks to help prevent homelessness among children in our schools.

Homelessness is a complex topic that does not have a single silver-bullet solution. It takes many individuals and organizations with like minds and missions, working collaboratively! Your proposed new task force would splinter existing efforts while ignoring work that has been done recently — and continues to be done – by city staff, Helpline and other local non-profits, members of the Thrive Housing Action Team, and by the city/county Accessible Housing Advisory Board.

It’s time to stop studying and start doing, friends. I’m happy to schedule time to help you catch up with this important topic. In the meantime, please review these links and my comments:

  1. Thrive Housing Action Team (including city, county, and federal staff!) created a Housing Retention Specialist in 2021. Pilot program at East River Legal Services has successfully prevented eviction for 9 families and their children in just a year of operation. The real need? City partnership to take this from pilot to sustainability. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/children-families-secure-housing/. These conversations are already in the works.
  2. The Accessible Housing Advisory Board, city staff Amos Abu, and a variety of housing stakeholders including Helpline Center and Thrive are working on a Housing Navigation Portal that will help connect tenants with potential housing that meets their existing needs and budget. The real need? Council support and funding to help make the portal a reality.
  3. Former city housing staff (Chellee Unruh) met with clients of the St. Francis House and others to learn more about specific needs from that unique community. The real need? I would recommend reviewing this existing data, so you get a better understanding of this topic from the people living it every day.
  4. Thrive Housing Action Team (again, including city, county, and federal staff) created the OneRoof project that is providing wraparound services for those families who are most difficult to house. This is no longer a pilot and is thriving inside The Community Outreach. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/oneroof-evaluation/The real need? City support for the unmet needs that some of these folks continue to have.
  5. City/county project Just Home is tackling homelessness for those people impacted by the justice system. The real need? Council members to become well-versed in this important project and ready to support proposals that will come your way within months.
  6. Key non-profits are providing services for our unhoused neighbors. The real need? City council members to acknowledge the important work of St. Francis House, Bishop Dudley and UGM, and encourage them to work together in a stronger spirit of collaboration.
  7. Finally, the biggest need is for more local money without state/federal strings attached for building housing that is affordable to the poorest of our neighbors. Those in the 30% of AMI range. This comes in the form of a Housing Trust Fund. Even Rapid City has an HTF now and it is fully funded while the city of Sioux Falls didn’t grasp the idea when it was proposed 10 years ago. Thrive’s Housing Action Team is taking the challenge and will have a presentation for you in the coming months.

Again, please don’t splinter ongoing work and collaborations. Please encourage the city to instead join these organizations in building a better partnership and collective impact.

Stop studying and start doing.

Michelle Erpenbach

President

Sioux Falls Thrive

The second email is from Anny Libengood from Minnehaha County Human Services;

Hi, I am a social worker and was a front line worker at Human Services for 18 years. Most recently I was the Housing Navigator. During this time, I became closely and extensively involved in the lives of many vulnerable people in addition to learning the inner workings of community resources. 

The first thing elected leaders need to do is educate themselves on what work and research has already been done. They need to know what programs are out there, have been out there, and what programs need to shift and what programs need to stop duplicating services/resources. About 15 years ago, we had a 10 year plan to end homelessness as did many communities. We also had the Homeless Advisory Board that did extensive work and research. Did we implement anything? No. Fast forward 15 years and we now have TWO Augustana research studies telling us what the community needs to do. The research was extensive and included perspectives of front line staff and those experiencing homelessness. What have we done with these studies? Checked the box that we did them, I guess. “We” just keep creating groups because “we” can’t figure out what to do. (Thrive, Forward SF, Empower, AHAB, Sioux Empire Leadership Council, etc. etc.) and then none of them talk to each other. Stop studying the problem over and over again. It’s time to start the work. 

A couple of reasons the Bishop Dudley police calls have tripled is because the former director was a former police officer. It was easy for the calls to not be “logged”- and yes this is true. He told me this himself when I was providing case management to the homeless families staying there. He didn’t want the neighborhood or powers above him to see the calls and start complaining. Also, his no trespass list was longer than my arm. The current director has to go through regular police call protocols and she is trying to respect the mission of the BDHH which is Open Doors, Open Arms.

Please reconsider this Task Force and Study idea. I am willing to help educate. All you have to do is ask.

Thank you. I plan to be at the council meeting tomorrow.

Mayor TenHaken says Sioux Falls is a nice place to live, work, play & be homeless

Don’t take my word for it;


“There’s no good way to say this, but we are a nice community to be homeless in,” he said. By that, he means that our social service agencies such as The Banquet and Bishop Dudley Hospitality House are strong, well-run organizations. The churches in Sioux Falls are financially stable. The people are generous.



I become less surprised each time Poops tells us exactly what he thinks. First he didn’t sign up for the job, then he thinks candidates are jealous of him when he uses inside information to benefit his campaign, then he is angry about alleged pervert cops now he acts like living homeless in Sioux Falls is the lap of luxury.

It is amazing how incredibly tone deaf our mayor is. He has NO clue of the amount of slum housing and poverty we have in this city, and he doesn’t seem to care, as long as the non-profits take care of it for us.

The city has the resources to make public transit, employment and housing better, but they live in the shiny glass house on the hill and wish the minions below the best of luck.

Many of our issues with food insecurity, housing, addiction and employment could be simply fixed by seeking higher wage employers to which Poops response is ‘we can’t continue this wage inflation, it’s not sustainable.’ But I guess we can continue to allow non-profits to bail out the poor?