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Homeless shelter sought for Mitchell

Mitchell needs a better way to house and provide assistance for the homeless, according to County Veterans Service Officer Steve McClure.

0 Talk about it

During Tuesday’s regular Davison County Commission meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell, McClure presented an outline for a grant through the South Dakota Housing Development Authority that awards funds to communities and nonprofit agencies looking to assist the homeless.

Mitchell does not have a homeless shelter, and McClure wanted the commission to present the grant to the Mitchell City Council. That way, he said, the city could move forward with getting a project started to house the homeless if money from the grant was awarded.

“The commissioners have more clout than I do for going to the city and coordinating it all,” said McClure, who emphasized the shelter would be for all homeless people, not just homeless veterans. “I was hoping they would talk to the city about it to see if anyone was interested in applying for it. I think something should be done and it should be a community process.”

The estimated total funding available through the grant is approximately $400,000 per year, with 60 percent geared toward street outreach and shelter operation and 40 percent for homeless prevention and re-housing activities. It is through the Emergency Solutions Grants Program, a federal block grant authorized by the McKinney Vento Homelessness Assistance Act.

The commissioners decided that because little has been done so far on the project, the March 31 grant application deadline would be too soon.

“With that big of a project, you already need a plan in place with location, continued financing and who would run it,” Commissioner Randy Reider said. “If we were already undertaking it, this grant would have timed out perfectly.”

According to the South Dakota Housing for the Homeless Consortium, there were 1,155 homeless people counted in the state last year. The organization found during its September count that Davison County had 29 adults and nine children for a total of 38 homeless people.

That was a three-year high. There were 31 homeless people counted in Davison County in 2012 and 19 counted in 2011. In 2010, the organization counted 39 homeless people.

McClure said he knows of at least two homeless people in Mitchell, and he sees others throughout the summer near Interstate 90. McClure said homeless people who are in Mitchell don’t have many options for shelter. The closest place with a homeless shelter is Sioux Falls, according to people at the meeting.

“Right now, Salvation Army, local churches and county dollars are going toward helping the homeless,” McClure said. “If we had a shelter here, we could house them for a night instead of putting money up for them to stay in a motel.”

McClure said if the commissioners aren’t willing to go to the City Council to discuss applying for the grant, he likely will.

“I think the main thing is this raises a question,” Commissioner Denny Kiner said. “Now we can start the discussion of if there’s such a need for a thing like this in Mitchell.”

Other business

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

  • Approved a motion to participate in the Funding Exchange for State Transportation Improvement Program, which gives Davison County funds to use for highway material purchases.

  • Approved a resolution to keep Civil Design Inc., of Brookings, as Davison County’s consulting engineering firm for bridge inspections.

  • Approved a motion to purchase a Crafco crack sealer for $24,990 from Brock White Construction Materials for the highway department.

  • Approved a motion to hire a seasonal employee at $13 hourly to work half-time in the highway department and half-time as a weed sprayer, with the condition the employee will not get benefits.

  • Approved a motion to purchase technology equipment, three hard drives and a VPN Client, for $1,769 through TechSolutions, of Mitchell, and five cellular air-cards with 4G service for a total of $2,435 for the county jail.

  • Approved a motion to house a Buffalo County woman in the Davison County Jail during her trial to have easier contact with her attorneys, who are from Mitchell.

  • Approved a motion to put a dismantled mobile home on the uncollectible list.