Number of homeless in South Dakota decreases

On Sept. 25, 2012, South Dakota Housing for the Homeless Consortium (SDHHC) conducted a one-day survey to identify homeless families and individuals throughout the state of South Dakota.

Over the 24-hour period, 1,166 individuals, including 336 children, were counted, representing a 26 percent decline from the 1,453 individuals identified in 2011.

In 2009, South Dakota received more than $3.2 million in Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) funding. The HPRP program, which ended on Sept. 1, 2012, provided funding for rental assistance, security deposit, and utility deposits. In addition to the financial assistance, case management provided necessary services to help HPRP participants maintain housing.

"Though the HPRP grant ended on Sept. 1, the successful results showed in our recent count. The decrease in homelessness is due largely in part to the HPRP program", said Lisa Bondy, SDHHC coordinator.

Also, SDHHC will take the results from the 2012 count to create goals and objectives for the South Dakota's Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which is currently being created.

"We know that short-term assistance is not going to fix long-term barriers. The Ten-Year Plan will create specific objectives for reducing barriers for homeless individuals and families to reduce recidivism back into homelessness," said Bondy.

The statewide survey was broken down into three geographical areas according to counties: West River, East River and Central South Dakota. The Homeless Advisory Board in Sioux Falls, Black Hills Region Homeless Coalition, and South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), were responsible for coordinating the counts.

"SDHHC relies on community volunteers, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and other agencies to help conduct the count in their areas", said Bondy. "It is a great opportunity for agencies to come together for one specific cause to help those less fortunate in their community and to find out what barriers exist."

A few statistics from the 2012 count:

1. Majority of homeless individuals and families were staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing or hotel/motels.

2. The prime reason for homelessness was Lost Job/Unemployment and Substance abuse issues;

3. Majority of the homeless were 26-35 years of age;

4. Of the 1,153, 131 were sleeping outdoors the night of the count (15 of them were children)

5. 15 percent of the homeless population were veterans

6. 94 percent of those surveyed stated their income comes from employment

7. 35 percent of the homeless individuals (with no family) had high school diplomas, while 20% had some college credits

8. Homeless individuals, male and female, stated their need was full time employment to help them get into housing as well as assistance with first month's rent and deposit.

For more detailed results, visit www.housingforthehomeless.org

Reducing the number of homeless individuals is a national and state priority. By combining the results from this count with a plan of action, SDHHC can assist its members in seeking the appropriate changes needed to address these problems. SDHHC encourages anyone who is interested in participating in this effort to contact Lisa Bondy at South Dakota Housing Development Authority, (605) 773-3445 or lisab@sdhda.org.

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