Homelessness looks different in Pine Ridge. In fact, by HUD standards there is NOT much homelessness on the reservation. But the truth is quite different. While they may have a place to stay it really is not a home. It is common for multiple families to share a single house. We deliver food for one of our families to a small house in which 20 people live.
There are many problems with this setup. It is hard to have privacy let alone your own place. Sanitation can be a problem. And that many people with 1 or 2 toilets means that the bathroom never dries out so mold and mildew can be a hazard.
Other people are living in unsafe conditions. I know of a couple of people that are sleeping in homes that have been condemned. Others move from home to home. Some have homes when they have money but are kicked out soon after.
The Center received a grant from the SD Department of housing to address homelessness. A portion is used to provide emergency shelter and we are now helping to run the homeless shelter in town. The Center is the day shelter. My grant staff is working hard to help people find new housing. One of the obstacles is the lack of housing on the reservation. Not just affordable housing but safe housing of any type. Unfortunately, we have no option but to help with housing in Rapid City. Yet we have had success. This week alone we took 2 families off the street and helped them move into safe apartments.
Homeless people are not less than others. They are still the children of God. Made in Gods image. God loves them like God loves you. And so do I!