Entries Tagged 'Homeless' ↓

Sioux Falls neighbors not happy about planned homeless shelter

In case you missed this a few days ago, I did to;

Meanwhile, in downtown Sioux Falls, the Bishop Dudley House had been looking at the possibility of different temporary family housing locations.

The two partners found each other in large part because ICAP had received federal money that could be used for the former Children’s Inn building and a type of homeless non-congregate temporary housing.

While I would agree converting the former Children’s Inn site into a family transitional homeless facility is probably a good fit, the planning was not. The neighborhood is up in arms over not being brought along in the process or even told about the plans. The rumor is they are planning a petition drive to stop this somehow.

This of course is how we do governmental business now in Sioux Falls. Ramrod it through, don’t tell anyone, and after we get approval apologize for screwing up, and always remember to say, ‘This will never happen again.’

The best way to reassure crap like this never happens again is to vote these sophomoric clowns out of office in the next election, or better yet, recall them NOW!

Precedent after precedent, after precedent. When are we going to learn?

Sioux Falls City Council Informational Meeting

Next week the city council has decided to tackle three big topics all in one game;

• Washington Pavilion Management Agreement Renewal by Shawn Pritchett, Finance Director

(two questions councilors need to ask; 1) what is the current compensation of the CEO, Darrin Smith & 2) Why is there $5.2 million dollars in the management companies savings account? Also curious is how that savings account jumped $2.2 million in one year? I will be honest with you, I think it is wonderful the Pavilion is building such an account, but it should be an endowment. And why do we continue to subsidize them operationally? I don’t take issue with maintenance costs, because as taxpayers, we own the joint, but after over 20 years, when will it become the place for ‘EVERYBODY’?)

• Homeless Task Force Report by Council Member Rich Merkouris Here is a simple breakdown from The Dakota Scout (and me);

• $500,000 – Homeless engagement

The recommendation calls for entering into a contract with a third party on a two-year pilot project referred to as a street outreach team.

The cost estimate of $500,000 includes $300,000 in the first year and another $200,000 the second.

(This is a good step forward, BUT, the SFPD also needs to have officers on follows to learn from this. I guess it has been successful in Rapid City.)

• $125,000 – Public education

The task force wants to tap into the existing nonprofits already working in the social services arena to develop a public education campaign that teaches area residents about the challenges of homelessness, how it can be addressed and how to deal with panhandling.

(I personally think it is ludicrous to have to educate people about panhandling and homelessness, BUT, before I lived in a NW coastal city in my teens, I knew very little about these things so it is merited, BUT, the local media, print, radio and TV need to step up and just do this out of the goodness of their hearts.)

•$352,000 – Rally around Network of Care

A grant program could be created to help more nonprofits and other social service agencies become partners in the Helpline Center’s Network of Care, which was created in 2015 to give social service agencies a mechanism to connect with each other in aiding clients.

Of that $352,000, $250,000 would specifically be used to fund the grant program, while the task force is calling for an additional $102,000 directly for the Helpline Center “for HIPAA compliance,” the recommendation reads.

(This is a wonderful software(?) program, the issue I have is the cost. If every service registered with this program used it, wouldn’t that bring the cost down? A good question to ask.)

• $500,000+ – ‘Housing First wraparound services’

The City Council will be asked to create a joint committee with the Minnehaha County Commission to explore grant funding opportunities for new properties and partnerships that could lead to additional housing stability with associated programming for employment and substance abuse recovery support.

While there’s no finite estimate on what it might cost, Merkouris speculated it could be anywhere from $500,000 to as much as the Council and county might be willing dedicate to the plan.

(I have argued from the beginning that this would be costly, BUT we need a plan to look at before throwing money at it. There are zoning laws and regs we could change to force developers to provide this kind of housing which would cost taxpayers $0.)

• SiouxFalls.org Website Redesign by Allie Hartzler, Communications and Culture Officer; and Justine Murtha, Digital Communications Manager;

• siouxfalls.org was last redesigned in 2016.
• Each month, the website has more than 70,000 monthly users, with 60% of users visiting on mobile devices.
• More than 4,800 pages, 9,000 documents, and 6,000 images* exist today.
• In June 2022, the City selected Granicus as a partner for the redesign.

(This is long overdue, and I feel sorry for Allie for getting this dumped in her lap, and the newly hired(?) Digital Communications Manager. But I also argue that this isn’t rocket science. The internet has been around for 30 years, web programming is mostly on auto-pilot and we can learn from other cities, like Omaha, who has a great city website. And we certainly should NOT be hiring a company that has f’kup our website and council agendas for years. It could be done internally by a very capable IT department (would have been a great work at home Covid project) but once again we are jobbing it out.)

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force meeting videos are getting more and more delayed

UPDATE: I was informed this morning that the meeting video will not be available due to the audio missing. Not even sure how that happened?

This is the 3rd time I have requested from Chair Merkouris that the video from the latest task force meeting be posted to YouTube. Considering it is Saturday now, it is highly unlikely we will see the video until Monday. I find it interesting the closer they get to making recommendations the meetings being posted are an afterthought.

Most people can’t make the 4 PM Monday meeting time, and why I have asked for it to be live streamed. I have not won that battle. For reference and someone who is familiar to how videos are posted to YT, it literally only takes a couple of hours to post a video, if that, and usually the computer does all the work with very little interaction from the person uploading the video.

A couple of things so far that has come from the meetings is funding a pilot program for a street teams, funding a Helpline software program (to connect the different services and clients) and possibly upping the funding to the different homeless services.

Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force meeting from Oct 3 has yet to be posted

I was unable to attend last Monday’s meeting and I have noticed that after 8 days it has yet to be posted on YouTube. I still don’t understand why the meetings cannot be live streamed as they are recorded at Carnegie, but to take 8 days to post a video that can easily be converted and uploaded to YT within a couple of hours is troubling. So unless you could have left work early last Monday and attended in person you have NO idea what was discussed. Transparent government at its best!

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.