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November Is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month

November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. Compassionate Sioux Falls and the Homeless Advisory Board are partnering to provide information to the community about homelessness and hunger’s impact on our community and the efforts under way to support those in need.

A basic definition of homeless is someone who is lacking a permanent, safe place to live. Oftentimes the difference between being housed and being homeless is the support network that is available. Causes of homelessness are varied but can include poverty, domestic violence, mental health issues, catastrophic illness, unemployment, substance abuse, divorce, natural disasters, returning to civilian life after military service, and a lack of affordable housing.

“Every night in Sioux Falls, homeless children, women, and men are in need of shelter and supportive services. They live in shelters, transitional living facilities, vehicles, outdoors, in places not meant for human habitation, with strangers they have just met, or at imminent risk of being displaced from their residence,” says Colleen Moran, Assistant City Attorney, City of Sioux Falls.

Following are some eye-opening statistics:

  • The number of children identified as homeless in Sioux Falls has increased substantially over the last decade, including 438 children identified by the Sioux Falls School District so far this 2017–2018 school year.
  • Nearly 50 percent of students in the Sioux Falls School District are receiving free or reduced meals. Additionally, 3,000 weekend food backpacks are sent home with students each week, provided by the local Food Pantry.
  • In Minnehaha County, approximately 8,400 children rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
  • In South Dakota, 29.4 percent of individuals with disabilities live below the poverty line. Nationally, 37 percent of all homeless individuals have a disability.

“Preventing and ending homelessness and hunger is essential to the stability of families, the growth and vitality of businesses, and the Sioux Falls community as a whole. Many organizations and faith-based entities are committed to sheltering and providing supportive services as well as meals and food supplies to those in need, striving to ensure that the steps they are taking to end homelessness and hunger are done efficiently and effectively by working collaboratively to avoid duplication of services,” says Stacey Tieszen, Coordinator, Homeless Advisory Board, Minnehaha County.

A number of events are taking place in November to encourage community members to recognize the continued need for services for the homeless and hungry in Sioux Falls and to support those organizations working to meet these needs.

  • Tuesday, November 7: Mayor Huether will read a proclamation for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month at the 7 p.m. City Council meeting, 235 West Tenth Street.
  • Saturday, November 11: Veteran’s Day (In the Sioux Falls area in 2017, 338 veterans were served in the homeless outreach and prevention programs with the Veterans Administration.)
  • Wednesday, November 15: Annual Homeless Memorial Celebration at 6 p.m. in the main concourse of the Siouxland Health and Human Services Building, 521 North Main Avenue.
  • Thursday, November 16: Landlord Engagement Panel begins at 11:45 a.m. in Classroom 1 at Siouxland Health and Human Services Building, 521 North Main Avenue.
  • Saturday, November 18: Walk a Mile Event registration begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sixth Street by the Big Sioux River.
  • Tuesday, November 28: Community members are encouraged to use Sioux Area Metro or a bike as their primary mode of transportation.